What is Probate?

You may have heard of the term ‘Probate’, however may not be aware of what exactly this means, or what the process entails.

What is an application for Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a formal document issued by the Supreme Court of Victoria, which gives authority to the Executor of the estate to deal with the deceased’s assets once they have passed. An application for Probate is made by the Executor to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Alternatively, Letters of Administration may be required where the deceased did not leave a Will, or where the Executor cannot apply for a Grant of Probate.

Do I need a Grant of Probate?

If you are the Executor of the estate, it is your role to:

  • collect all of the deceased’s assets,
  • pay all of their debts, and
  • distribute the assets to their beneficiaries.

If you would like more information on the role of an Executor, we have prepared a detailed checklist which outlines the various steps to be taken to in order to get the administration process underway.

As part of the process of collecting the deceased’s assets, you will contact all institutions with which the deceased held assets. These may include banks, share registries, managed funds and pension funds. Sometimes these institutions may waive the requirement for a Grant of Probate, such as where the asset is relatively small or where it was jointly owned with a spouse. Typically, however, a Grant of Probate will be required before these institutions will release the estate assets. A Grant of Probate notifies the asset holding institutions that you are legally authorised to deal with the deceased’s assets.

You can find out more details from the Supreme Court of Victoria as to whether you will need to obtain a Grant of Probate.

How do I apply for a Grant of Probate?

To obtain a Grant of Probate, you will be required to apply to the Supreme Court of Victoria. This process is typically undertaken by a lawyer on your behalf, given the complexities involved in managing a deceased estate.

The first step is to advertise, via the Supreme Court of Victoria’s website, your intention to apply for a grant at least 14 days before submitting an application. The next step will be to submit an application which includes information about the deceased, the assets and liabilities of the deceased, the Will, and associated documentation. The Supreme Court of Victoria will then review your application. It is important to note that it may take some time for the application to be granted, as there are various factors involved.

What happens once a Grant of Probate is issued?

Once a Grant of Probate is issued, it can then be provided to the asset holding institutions so that the deceased’s assets can be transferred to the estate.

Once you have collected all of the deceased’s assets into the estate, and paid all of the deceased’s debts, you will need to administer the estate. This may include completing final tax returns, waiting for property settlement, and various other considerations, before making final distributions to the deceased’s beneficiaries.

How can Sharrock Pitman Legal help?

If you require assistance with obtaining a Grant of Probate, our Wills & Estates team can assist you with this process and the administration of an estate. Please feel free to contact us on 1300 205 506 or by email at willsandestates@sharrockpitman.com.au.

The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Any legal matters should be discussed specifically with one of our lawyers.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

For further information contact  
Sarah Slattery

Sarah is an Associate Lawyer at Sharrock Pitman Legal. As a member of our Wills and Estates team, Sarah is dedicated to successfully resolving her clients matters in a cost-effective and timely manner. For further information, please contact Sarah directly on (03) 8651 3322 or by emailing sarah@sharrockpitman.com.au.

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