Estates 2017-05-19T12:17:27+00:00

Estates

ARL Lawyers have a team of experienced lawyers who can assist you and advise you on all areas of Estate Law, whether it is making an application to the High Court for Probate or Letters of Administration, dealing with the administration of the estate as a trustee or beneficiary and making claims under the Family Protection Act 1995, Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949 or the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

The specific areas in which our lawyers will assist you are as follows:

You can learn more about the team members who can assist you by visiting the Personal Planning & Business Solutions Team or by contacting us directly.

Estate Administration

When someone dies, their ‘estate’ is administered by personal representatives. If the personal representatives were appointed in the Will, they are known as executors. Where there is no Will, they are appointed by the High Court and are known as administrators.

The estate is all of the property owned by the deceased. It includes personal possessions, money in bank accounts, shares owned in companies, proceeds from insurance policies and any real estate they own (i.e. house and land). It does not include any property which a person may have owned as a trustee.

Executors and administrators collect assets forming part of the estate to ensure that the deceased person’s debts are repaid and the estate divided according to the terms of the Will (if there is one), or according to the Administration Act 1969 if a person dies without a Will (intestate).

An executor/administrator must keep accounts and records of all their dealings involving the assets of the estate. ARL Lawyers can assist executors by dealing with administration matters on their behalf, advising about selling estate assets and distributing an estate properly.

Often a person who has died may have been a trustee of a Family Trust. It is important that the ownership of any property held by the trust is changed and it may be appropriate to review the trust given the change in circumstances.

Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration

Usually executors will require a grant of Probate from the High Court to confirm their authority to act, but depending on the value and ownership of property, Probate may not be required. We can help you find out if Probate is required or not.

If there is no Will, a family member must apply to the High Court to be appointed administrator of the estate. There are strict rules as to who may apply to be appointed and in many cases consent will be required from other family members.

An application for a grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is a specialised application and is generally completed by lawyers on behalf of executors as part of the administration process.

Advising Beneficiaries

Sometimes it is necessary for beneficiaries (or potential beneficiaries) of an estate to obtain legal advice. If you are unsure about what the terms of the Will mean for you, or if you believe they are unfair, we are able to advise you about the administration process and whether you are able to, or need to, make a formal claim in respect of an estate. We can advocate on your behalf.

Estate administration – a guide for beneficiaries (PDF)

Estate Litigation

ARL Lawyers is able to assist beneficiaries who wish to make a claim in respect of an estate and assist executors who need to respond to one.

The Family Protection Act 1955 provides that a person has a moral duty to provide for close family members in their Will. If the person doesn’t make adequate provision, a family member may have a right to contest the Will.

If a person provides services on the basis that they will be rewarded in a Will for their services and that doesn’t happen, they can contest the Will under the Law Reform (Testamentary) Promises Act 1949.

When someone dies their partner has six months to either accept the terms of the Will or claim an alternative share under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976. These claims are complex, but ARL Lawyers can provide you with the specialist advice needed.