What is Estate Administration?
Obtaining a re-seal/reseal of a foreign grant or a fresh grant in Australia is the “key” which then allows the assets to be transferred from the name of the deceased into the estate (Stage 1), and from there to the relevant beneficiaries (Stage 2). This process is called Estate Administration.
What is involved and how long does it take?
What will be involved depends entirely on the assets held by the deceased and what the beneficiaries wish to do with them.
Here are some examples of what is involved in transferring common asset types:
- Real property: The first step is to transfer any property into the name of the estate. From there, it can be sold with the assistance of a real estate agent, or it can be transferred into the names of the relevant beneficiaries. Organising the sale of a property can take some months, and there is commonly a 60-90 day period after the sale of the property before it ‘settles’ - ie. the actual sale money is paid to the estate, and the title is transferred to the buyer.
- Bank accounts: Banks will generally require various paperwork to be completed and a copy of the grant or reseal of probate. Upon this, they will release the money held by way of a cheque to the estate. This process generally takes about 4 weeks.
- Shares: Shares will be transferred to the estate and from there either sold or transferred to the relevant beneficiaries. This involves a variety of paperwork to be completed. The sale of shares can usually be accomplished within about 4-6 weeks.
A delay that cannot be avoided
It is very important to note that there is often a substantial period of time between Stage 1 of Estate Administration (transferring assets to the name of the Estate), and Stage 2 of Estate Administration (transferring assets to the relevant beneficiaries). One very important reason for this is that in many parts of Australia, there is a time period after the issue of a grant or a reseal where assets should not be distributed out of the estate, as this is the period in which anyone has to lodge a challenge to the Will.
In Victoria, for example, this period is 6 months. While an executor or administrator can choose to pay money out of the estate to beneficiaries during this time, if there is any challenge, then the executor or administrator is personally liable for replacing that money. For this reason, it is common to advise the executor or administrator not to pay any money to beneficiaries during this time. Your legal advisor can tell you more specifically about the rules applicable to your situation.
Estate Administration can be delayed for a number of reasons, but the most common is where beneficiaries do not agree on how assets should be dealt with, or where a beneficiary or family member is not happy with the distribution under the Will or intestacy. In such cases, the estate is held up until such disputes resolve.
The cost for Estate Administration is different in every case, as it entirely depends on the assets held by the deceased and what is involved in transferring them. Your legal advisor can give you an individualised quote on your situation.
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