Probate & Administration
Specialist Probate Lawyers – No probate too small or too complex!
When you are looking for expert probate lawyers in Brisbane or throughout South-East Queensland, you can’t do better than Ryan Murdoch O’Regan’s Wills & Estates Team. Our Team Leader, Russell Leneham, is an Accredited Specialist in Succession Law (i.e. wills and estates), with almost 30 years’ experience. And the entire Wills & Estates Team consists of lawyers experienced in wills and estates.
We act for clients anywhere in Queensland (and all over the world), in relation to Queensland estates.
Probate & Administration Team
With expertise in all areas of probate law, Ryan Murdoch O’Regan can guide you through all aspects of estate administration, from the simplest steps to the most complex issues and litigation.
When a loved one or dear friend has passed away and has appointed you to be the executor of their will, the last thing you need is to get bogged down in the legalities of administering the estate. That is why many executors and administrators instruct Ryan Murdoch O’Regan Lawyers to simply take care of the whole process of administering the estate. This enables you to be involved in the process (as we will keep you fully informed and up-to-date as things progress), but without solely carrying the burden and worry of giving effect to the terms of the will.
Ryan Murdoch O’Regan Lawyers expert probate lawyers can assist with:
- Reading of the Will,
- Administering a Deceased Estate,
- Probate and Letters of Administration, and
- Managing a Trust.
Fixed Fees & Deferred Payment Options
Perhaps best of all, our expertise comes with deferred payment options and fixed fees on common form applications for probate and letters of administration. Usually no payment is required until the estate has been collected, and we pay the substantial out-of-pocket expenses of obtaining probate or letters of administration for you.
Historically it was common for families to gather for a formal reading of the will. This is not so common nowadays. Usually the will is simply photocopied, and copies are given to all interested persons.
But it is still occasionally appropriate for a reading of the will to occur in consultation with a solicitor. This may especially be the case where family members have questions about the meaning of the will and would like it to be explained by a solicitor who specialises in wills and estates.
Ryan Murdoch O’Regan can assist with consultations about a will, including, if desired, a formal reading of the will. This can be done either before or after the funeral.
When someone passes away, their assets and liabilities comprise their estate. The process of dealing with the estate is called deceased estate administration or estate management. The person who has the responsibility of managing the estate is called either the “executor,” “administrator” or “personal representative” of the deceased person. For simplicity, we will here refer to that person as the executor.
The executor’s job is to collect the assets of the deceased, pay debts, and distribute the estate. The executor must distribute the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will, subject to the laws of succession. If there is no will, the executor must distribute the estate to the beneficiaries specified in the “intestacy rules.”
“Probate” does not have anything to do with taxes. “Probate Duties” were abolished in Queensland many years ago. Nowadays, the usual expenses associated with Probate are the court filing fee, advertising costs and legal fees. No taxes as such.
To put it simply, Probate is a document issued by the Supreme Court. It contains the court’s official seal, so that it is accepted as your authority to deal with the estate.
To obtain Probate, you must prove to the court that:
- the person named in the will is deceased,
- the will is in fact the last and valid will of the deceased person, and
- you are in fact the executor named in the will.
This is proven by affidavits (sworn statements) verifying these details. If there are any conditions attached to your appointment as executor, the fulfilment of those conditions must also be proven to the court.
It is not always necessary to obtain Probate. However, if you administer an estate in accordance with a will, and that will is later found to be not valid or not the last will of the deceased, then you will be personally liable to the true beneficiaries for the value wrongly distributed. You will not be liable in this way if you have obtained Probate of the will.
You will need to get Probate if an asset-holder (such as a bank) insists on it. They will usually do this if the estate asset they hold is very substantial (e.g. a bank account over the Probate threshold set by the particular bank – usually about $50,000).
It usually takes between six weeks and three months to get Probate. This includes placing advertisements (you will see them in the Public Notices section of a newspaper), waiting for the 14-day public notice period to expire, preparing the necessary documents and filing them in the Supreme Court, and then waiting for the court to assess the documents and issue the Probate document.
In some circumstances (for example, if there is no will), the court will issue “Letters of Administration” instead of Probate. The effect of Letters of Administration is the same as Probate.
You will likely be involved in a trust at some time in your life. Perhaps through a family trust, either as trustee or beneficiary. Or perhaps as executor or beneficiary of a will, as deceased estates involve particular duties of trusteeship. And increasing numbers of people are setting up self-managed superannuation funds, which are also a special type of trust.
The implementation of a trust requires important decisions to be made. One important decision is to determine who will manage the trust, either as trustee of a trust or as executor of your will. These are not decisions to be taken lightly.
The duties of a trustee are many and complex, such as: Avoiding conflicts of interest and conflicts of duties, the duty to provide information and accounts to beneficiaries, the duty to invest properly, the duty to distribute the trust funds in accordance with the trust deed or the will and according to law. Failure to act appropriately as trustee can result in costly litigation with the beneficiaries. Trustees who fail in their duties can be sued by the beneficiaries, or can be removed by the Supreme Court.
In some situations the beneficiaries can require the trustee to terminate the trust and transfer to the beneficiaries the funds or property that was held by the trust. A trustee who does not make the correct decision will be exposed to personal liability for any losses suffered by the entitled beneficiaries.
Quinn & Scattini provides professional trustee services. Our experts can be appointed as trustees of your trust (except a SMSF) or professional executors of your will. Or you can turn to us for advice in the managing of a trust or deceased estate. If you have been appointed executor of a will, we can manage the estate on your behalf, or we can advise you in carrying out your duties.
Making Sense of It All
The responsibilities associated with probate and estate administration can be an overwhelming and daunting experience. There are certain procedures that must be followed, with terminology that is probably new to you. To assist you through the probate and administration process, Q&S’s expert probate and estate administration lawyers have compiled a glossary of commonly used terms. Access the glossary here.
Will/Estate Dispute & Litigation
Ryan Murdoch O’Regan Lawyers represent clients in deceased estate litigation (will disputes) on a “no win, no fee” basis in approved cases. Q&S can strongly respond to any estate challenges that you may face during the course of estate administration.
Please visit our dedicated will/estate dispute and litigation webpage for further information.
How We Can Help
Q&S’s probate and administration lawyers are experts in all estate matters. Our lawyers will work closely with you to complete all the necessary steps to obtain Probate or Letters of Administration, provide professional support and guidance at a reading of a will, ensure you meet the legalities of deceased estate administration and provide high quality, professional trustee/executor services, all while you stay in control of costs with deferred payment options and fixed fees.
Get the best representation. To request a quote or to find out more about our deferred payment options, contact Ryan Murdoch O’Regan Lawyers’ experienced probate and administration lawyers on 1800 999 529, email email@example.com or submit an enquiry below.