How Long Does It Take to Complete Probate and Receive Inheritance from a Will in NSW?

How Long Does It Take to Complete Probate and Receive Inheritance from a Will in NSW?

Obtaining inheritance from a deceased estate in NSW usually involves a legal process known as probate, where the executor applies to the Supreme Court of NSW for the right to administer the estate and distribute the assets of the deceased according to the terms of the Will.

This process ensures the deceased person’s estate is administered according to their Will — or in cases where a deceased died without a Will (known as dying intestate) — under the rules of intestacy. The timeline for receiving an inheritance can vary significantly, often taking anywhere from 9 to 18 months, depending on the complexity of the estate or where there is a claim against the deceased estate during the administration process.

Understanding the Probate Process in NSW

Probate in NSW is a critical step for executors, involving a formal application to the Supreme Court with the deceased’s Will and death certificate. This legal process verifies the Will’s validity and grants the executor the authority to administer the estate. The executor must carefully identify and call in the assets of the estate and pay the liabilities of the estate. Most executors seek legal advice to navigate complex scenarios or claims against the estate.

The Grant of Probate Process: How Long Does It Take in NSW?

The duration to obtain a grant of probate in NSW can vary. After submitting the probate application, it may take a few weeks or even months for the grant to be issued, contingent on the Registry’s caseload and the completeness and accuracy of the application.

Once granted, the executor may begin administering the estate, including calling in assets, paying liabilities, and distributing assets or money to the beneficiaries. Executors and beneficiaries should prepare themselves for the administration of an estate to take months, especially if the estate involves multiple large assets, creditor claims, or is contested by beneficiaries.

The Probate Process for a Will vs. Intestate Estates

When a person dies with a Will, the executor named in the Will initiates the probate process. However, if someone dies intestate, the process involves applying for letters of administration, where the Court appoints an administrator to administer the estate. Intestacy can complicate and lengthen the administration process, as the distribution of assets follows the statutory order rather than the deceased’s wishes. Executors and administrators alike must address all aspects of estate administration, from resolving disputes, completing and lodging final income tax returns, and distributing the estate among beneficiaries, which can substantially affect how quickly beneficiaries receive their inheritance.

Administering the Estate: Roles and Responsibilities

The Role of a Trustee in Administering the Estate

The trustee, although often synonymous with the executor of the estate, has a different function to the executor. Generally speaking, the trustee’s role only commences once the executor has completed the administration of the estate and any property subject to a trust under the terms of the Will or on intestacy becomes subject to the trust. The process of administering an estate involves calling in the assets of the estate, settling the estate’s liabilities, preparing and lodging estate tax returns (where necessary), and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries, or settling any amounts on any trusts created by the Will or on intestacy for the trustee to manage from that point forward.

Steps to Administer the Estate and Distribute Inheritance

Administering an estate follows a structured process, starting with applying for a grant of probate. This step is usually required in order to administer the estate and distribute the deceased’s estate. When applying for probate, the executor must prepare a detailed inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities and provide this to the Court.

Once a grant of probate is issued, the executor’s role is to call in the assets, pay the estate’s debts, and ensure the estate is distributed according to the terms of the Will. The estate may only be distributed once all the estate’s liabilities and taxes have been paid, which may include settling any inheritance tax liabilities.

The executor is personally liable for administering the estate. The administration of an estate usually takes between 9 to 18 months but can take longer depending on the circumstances. Executors are advised to seek legal advice from experts like Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers, to guide them through the process and ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

Navigating Timelines: When Will You Receive Your Inheritance?

Timeframes for Receiving Inheritance in NSW

The timeline to receive an inheritance in NSW can vary widely. After the grant of probate is made, the executor can start administering the estate, a process that can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months or more depending on the size and nature of the estate and any complications that arise throughout the administration process, such as claims by family members. The administration process includes paying the funeral, administration and taxation liabilities and distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will or, in the absence of a Will, in accordance with intestacy laws.

Time to Receive Your Inheritance: Factors That Affect Duration

Several factors can affect how long it takes to receive an inheritance. These include the time it takes to apply for and receive the grant of probate and the time it takes to administer the estate. If the estate is contested the process can take longer.

Finalising the Estate: What Beneficiaries Need to Know

The estate administration process may take months, often between 9-18 months, especially if the estate comprises one or more properties, or there are disputes amongst the beneficiaries or other family members. The distribution of the estate can usually only occur once the funeral, testamentary and administration expenses of the estate have been paid.

However, in some cases, the executor or administrator may pay one or more interim distributions, which can provide partial inheritance while the remainder of the estate is being finalised. It’s crucial for beneficiaries to understand that the timing of inheritance depends on numerous legal and administrative steps, and patience is often required throughout this period.

Legal Rights and Claims in Estate Administration

Making a Family Provision Claim Against an Estate

A family provision claim is a legal process allowing certain individuals to contest the distribution of a deceased’s estate if they believe they have not been adequately provided for in the Will. In NSW, eligible persons include the spouse, de facto partners, children, and dependants of the deceased, among others. In NSW, to make a family provision claim, the claimant must apply to the court within 12 months from the date of death, and satisfy the Court of their need for further provision from the estate. The court considers factors including the claimant’s financial needs, their relationship with the deceased, and the size of the estate. This legal process can delay the administration and distribution of the estate.

How to Get an Inheritance from an Intestate Estate in NSW

When a person dies intestate (i.e. without a Will) in NSW, their estate is distributed according to the intestacy laws outlined in Chapter 4 of the Succession Act 2006. The process may require the next of kin or another person to apply for letters of administration, which if obtained, authorises that person to administer the estate. The assets are then distributed according to a prescribed order, prioritising spouses, children, parents and then other relatives. Navigating intestacy can be complex, requiring thorough understanding of the estate’s assets and liabilities, and an understanding of the intestacy laws.

Tips to Expedite the Inheritance Process

To best ensure the smooth and swift administration of an estate, there are several key strategies executors and administrators can employ. These steps are designed to expedite the inheritance process, making it less burdensome for all parties involved and ensuring beneficiaries receive their inheritance without unnecessary delay:

  1. Gather Documentation Early: Executors and administrators should collect all necessary documents, including the Will, death certificate, and details of all assets and liabilities, as early as possible to streamline the probate or letters of administration application.
  2. Seek Professional Advice: Consulting with a solicitor experienced in estate administration can help clarify the process, ensure compliance, and potentially identify strategies to avoid delays.
  3. Communicate with Beneficiaries: Keeping open lines of communication with all beneficiaries can help manage expectations, reduce disputes, and clarify the timeline for receiving their inheritance.
  4. Resolve Disputes Quickly: If disputes arise, consider mediation or other dispute resolution methods to address them promptly, as contested estates can significantly prolong the time beneficiaries may have to wait to receive their inheritance.
  5. Consider Interim Distributions: If the estate has sufficient liquidity, executors may make interim distributions to beneficiaries before finalising all aspects of the estate administration, ensuring any potential taxes or claims are accounted for.

Ready to Navigate Your Estate Journey with Ease?

If you’re seeking guidance through the complexities of estate administration, probate processes, or making a claim against an estate in NSW, Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers is here to provide the expertise and support you need. Our experienced lawyers specialises in streamlining the inheritance process, resolving disputes efficiently, and ensuring you receive the legal advice necessary to get through these challenging times. Don’t navigate this journey alone — let us guide you through each step with professionalism and care.

Contact us now on [email protected] or 1300 414 844 for a confidential and obligation-free initial consultation.

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Disclaimer: the information in this article is general information only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It may contain information or links to sources which are no longer current. If you have a question or legal issue, we recommend you contact a lawyer and obtain legal advice that takes into account your specific facts, circumstances, needs and objectives.

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