It can be an emotional and overwhelming time when someone close to you dies. To make matters more difficult, there can also be a substantial number of practical tasks that need to be attended to, and some of those tasks need to be attended to straight away. Do they have a Will? Are you entitled to anything if they don’t? Ian Field is Queensland Will and estate lawyer who specializes in contested Queensland Wills and estates legal matters as well as represents Executors during Deceased Estate administrations that do not involve any form of contest or litigation.
Aylward Game Solicitors has supported many people through this challenging process and we have provided some information below to assist you should someone close to you pass away.
The person legally responsible for the burial and funeral arrangements is the executor of the deceased person’s estate. This does not mean that they are the only person who will arrange the funeral, sometimes other family members or friends assist with this process even if they aren’t the executor.
The funeral director will collect all relevant information from the people arranging the funeral. This includes the full name of the deceased, the full name of family members, and their addresses. It is important that the information and spelling are correct as this information is provided to the Department of Births Deaths & Marriages in order for them to provide a Death Certificate. Should inaccurate information be provided, it will be reflected on the Death Certificate. Additional fees will apply to make amendments to the Death Certificate.
The funeral is usually paid for from the deceased person’s estate. This is based on the deceased person’s circumstances at the time of their death (dependent on the assets they held at the time of their death). If the deceased person holds sufficient funds in their bank account, the funds required for the funeral are usually released (by the bank) without having to apply for probate.
The Queensland Wills
It is important to determine whether the deceased person had a will. If there was a will, you may need a grant of probate and if there is no will, you may need a grant of letters of administration. As a general rule, if the deceased person held real estate in their name or had significant money or shares, it is more likely that you will be required to apply for a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration.
Grant of Probate – A grant of probate is a document provided by the Supreme Court of Queensland recognizing that the will is legally valid and confirming the executor has the authority to deal with the estate in accordance with the will.
Grant of Letters of Administration – If the deceased person dies without a valid will, this means the person has died without appointing an executor. This is known as having died intestate. The next of kin, therefore, takes on the role of administering the deceased person’s estate. This cannot be done until they obtain a grant of letters of administration. The letters of administration are provided once the court has examined the relevant documents and is satisfied that the person named in the grant is authorized to administer the estate.
The Executor or Administrator
The executor or administrator will become responsible for the deceased’s assets and liabilities. You should ensure that insurance policies are continued over all property owned by the deceased (e.g real estate or motor vehicles).
The executor or administrator should also notify any creditors as soon as possible especially if there are potentially no funds available to make the relevant payments.
As you can see from this brief review, there are substantial practical steps that need to be taken when someone close to you dies. The process of getting a grant to administer an estate can be also complicated and time-consuming.
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