Death & Probate

When a family member dies, needless to say, it is one of the most emotional periods of our lives. At this time, you need experts to manage the process of administering the estate of the deceased. Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers can provide this service to you so that you are free to do the things that you have to do in the knowledge that the estate is being attended to by professionals with the expertise required for the work.

We have a sophisticated process and system that enables us to attend to the work required in a deceased estate in a way that provides you with the information you need and when you need it. This ensures that you understand what is involved in carrying out the estate work on behalf of the executors and in the passing of assets to the beneficiaries nominated under the will.

The first thing that the executor of an estate normally asks is “What do I do now?”. At Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers, the information you need is contained in our guide titled “An executor’s duties“. If you find yourself in this position, do not hesitate to contact us for your free copy of the guide.

If you are an executor, there are liability issues about which you need to be made aware and steps that we can take on your behalf to ensure that you are given the protection of the laws that are available to ensure that you don’t become personally liable for debts and liabilities arising from the estate, including those arising from challenges to the will.

As a core part of our work involves estate planning and preparing for what is to happen with assets when someone dies, it makes sense to engage Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers to attend to the work for the deceased estate (even if we did not prepare the will).

If the deceased has a tax effective will, beneficiaries will need to make decisions about whether to use the trusts created for them under the will. We are able to advise the beneficiaries about their options and why they would or would not use them. This includes the tax advantages that can be available to the beneficiaries through the use of testamentary trusts that can come into place under the will.

Beneficiaries not only need to understand the taxation implications of taking gifts under the will through a trust created under it but they also need to understand what a trust is and how it works. For example, will they be able to access the income and capital from the gift intended for them in the same way as if the gift passed to them personally. Who will control the trust? Who will be entitled to income and capital under the trust? Is that income and capital protected if the beneficiary’s relationship breaks down, they become a bankrupt or they die and their own will is challenged. What other issues relate to holding assets in a trust? These are things that Sydney Business Lawyers deals with daily in the work that we do.

If the estate includes superannuation fund benefits, private company shares and managing the change of control of a discretionary trust, you may need specialist advice in managing the various issues that arise from these structures following death. Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers is able to provide that advice.

Managing the estate involves the collection of the assets of the deceased, payment of the debts and liabilities and the distribution of the balance in accordance with the will. Before this can happen, an application to the Supreme Court normally needs to be made for a grant of probate, which once obtained, means the assets of the estate can be distributed but not before. Normally, banks, insurers, financial institutions and superannuation funds will require a copy of the probate before they will permit access to the assets under their control. Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers does these applications so that the estate can be administered and assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries in the shortest possible timeframe.

Sometimes a dispute may arise in the administration of an estate where someone makes a claim against the estate because they say inadequate provision has been made for them. This is called a family provision claim. Claims may also be made that a will was signed when the deceased lacked mental capacity to do so or made the will under some form of influence from another person. These disputes can be managed by Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers.

Different rules and processes apply where the deceased did not leave a will. In this case, a surviving spouse does not automatically inherit all of the deceased’s assets. Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers is experienced in these situations.

If you would like any assistance with a deceased estate, please contact Damian Scroope at Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers on 8915 4999 or