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Mitchell is the Managing Principal of Sharrock Pitman Legal. He is an Accredited Specialist in Commercial Law (accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria). He also deals with areas of Employment Law, Wills & Estate Planning and Probate and can answer all your questions related to probate.

For further information, contact Mitchell on his direct line:


CALL: (03) 8561 3318

The loss of a loved one can be a challenging and emotional time. 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.

Written by a member of our Legal Team

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For further information contact

Binay Prasad

Binay is a Senior Associate of Sharrock Pitman Legal.

He is an Accredited Specialist in Wills and Estates law, having been accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria. He is part of our Wills and Estates group and deals with Wills and Estates planning and Probate. For further information, contact Binay on his direct line (03) 8561 3329.

More on

Probate & Estates

However, in this article we will set out the factors that influence how long it will take to obtain a Grant of Probate and to administer an estate in Victoria.

The basics

First things first: what is a Grant of Probate? A Grant of Probate is effectively a document issued by the Supreme Court of Victoria which formally authorises an executor to manage the estate of a deceased person in accordance with their Will. Without Probate, the asset holders (say a bank or share registry) cannot be satisfied as who has the correct authority to receive the deceased's assets and may refuse to pay out.

Sometimes, for smaller estates or if assets are mostly jointly owned with a surviving spouse, asset holders might agree to release payment without requiring a Grant of Probate. This is usually on the basis that the person who receives payment promises to repay (or Indemnify) the asset holder if it turns out they paid to the wrong person.

If there is no Will, then you cannot obtain a Grant of Probate. Instead you obtain Letters of Administration. This is effectively the same, in terms of authorising someone to administer the estate, and would usually be obtained by the person who is the closest next-of-kin to the deceased.

“A Grant of Probate is effectively a document issued by the Supreme Court of Victoria which formally authorises an executor to manage the estate of a deceased person in accordance with their Will.”

Timeframes for Probate in Victoria

In order to obtain a Grant of Probate, the Supreme Court needs to be given information about the assets and liabilities of the estate, the deceased person, the witnesses to the Will, the executors and the Will itself. An advertisement of your intention to apply for Probate must also be published on the Supreme Court website for at least 14 days prior to any application being lodged.

Often, making enquires to obtain all the necessary information can take a number of weeks. Also, you will need the Death Certificate for the application for Grant of Probate and possibly for making proper enquires regarding the assets and liabilities. Waiting for the Death Certificate to issue can therefore add a few more weeks to the process. Overall, if you have your application for Grant of Probate lodged within 1 to 2 months from the date of death, you are making timely progress.

The Court itself usually does not take long to process the application (maybe another 1 to 2 weeks) and this is completed using the electronic Supreme Court filing system. This means you do not have to go to a Court hearing. The timeframe for processing applications for Letters of Administration is even less, given that there is no Will document for the Court to consider. There is also a general discretion for the Court to raise a 'Requisition' asking for more information before they review the application - this can sometimes delay matters.

“Overall, if you have your application for Grant of Probate lodged within 1 to 2 months from the date of death, you are making timely progress.”

So, here we are a few months after death and you finally have a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. It is important to remember that this is the start of the estate administration and not the end. For a very simple estate, you might only need a further month or so to cash the assets and pay them to the correct beneficiaries. However, it can often be more complex than that. Factors that determine the timeframe to administer the estate include:-

  • Some assets will take time to cash or transfer. For example, if selling a property, final settlement might be 60/90/120 days from the day of sale.
  • There is a 6 month period for challenges to be brought against the estate and executors must wait until this period expires before distributing the estate, if there is any risk that a disgruntled family member might come forward.
  • There might need to be final tax returns for the deceased or for the estate. Failing to wait for the ATO to process these could leave the executor personally liable for a tax bill.
  • You might need to advertise for creditors to come forward and wait for a period of months while this advertising timeframe expires. This protects the executor if they are unsure of all of the deceased's financial dealings and creditors.
  • It might not always be a good time to immediately cash estate assets. For example, the shares just took a nose-dive, do you still sell regardless of available price?

There is a general rule that executors have an 'executor's year' to complete the estate administration. This means that you should be aiming to have the estate finalised and distributed within 12 months from the date of death.

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.

Need help with Probate?

Our expert legal team is ready to take your call!

Mitchell is the Managing Principal of Sharrock Pitman Legal. He is an Accredited Specialist in Commercial Law (accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria). He also deals with areas of Employment Law, Wills & Estate Planning and Probate and can answer all your questions related to probate.

For further information, contact Mitchell on his direct line:

DIRECT LINE: 
(03) 8561 3318

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For fifty years Sharrock Pitman Legal has made a significant and long term contribution to meeting the legal needs of business owners and residents in the City of Monash and greater Melbourne area.