At Norman Waterhouse Lawyers, we have had years of experience in assisting Executors and Administrators to administer non-contentious deceased estates. We also have specialist expertise assisting those with valid claims to obtain their just and equitable entitlements out of an estate where a deceased may have failed to provide such entitlements in their will.
Probate and Letters of Administration and the Administration of Estates
We are able to help Executors, in the case where there is a valid will, obtain a Grant of Probate and where there is no valid will we are able to assist the Administrators of an estate to obtain Letters of Administration.
A Grant of Probate constitutes the legal authority required by an Executor appointed in a valid will to administer a deceased person’s estate. It is issued by the Probate Registry within the Supreme Court of South Australia. Similarly, a Grant of Letters of Administration constitutes the legal authority required by an Administrator where a deceased person dies without a will (i.e. dies intestate). Grants of Probate and Grants of Letters of Administration are usually required by financial institutions (depending on the value of the estate), the Lands Titles Office and other government and non-government instrumentalities as proof that a particular person has the lawful authority to administer the estate of a deceased person.
When a person dies their Executor or Administrator appointed at law is required to deal with the deceased’s estate by calling in the estate the assets of the deceased (money, shares, investments, real property, refundable accommodation deposits, motor vehicles, furnishings and personal effects etc.) and pay any debts of the deceased. The Executor or Administrator must then distribute the net assets remaining to those beneficiaries named in the deceased’s will or in accordance with intestacy law if there is no valid will of the deceased.
Once Probate or Letters of Administration have been issued by the Supreme Court of SA, we will assist the Executor or Administrator to distribute the net assets of the estate. The timeliness of the administration of a deceased estate will often depend on the complexity of the assets and liabilities of the estate. We will always endeavour to ensure that an estate is administered in the most timely and efficient manner possible. To achieve this outcome will will co-ordinate and work closely with third parties such as accountants, financial planners and real estate agents to ensure that the assets of an estate are administered as soon as practicable after Probate or Letters of Administration have been granted.
Litigation – Claims against deceased Estates
Doyle’s Guide has recognised Norman Waterhouse as one of Adelaide’s highly ranked firms for Wills and Estate Litigation and our Senior Consultant Brendan Murray as one of Adelaide’s highly ranked practitioners in this field.
Brendan has extensive expertise in assisting Executors administering estates the subject of a claim, supporting beneficiaries in defending claims and advising claimants in relation to their potential claims against a deceased estate.
Our team at Norman Waterhouse can assist you in the following disputed matters:
- Inheritance Claims – Where a person feels that they have not been adequately provided for in a will or under an intestacy, a claim can be bought under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act. The Court will consider a number of factors when determining such a claim, including a claimant’s relationship with the deceased, the claimant’s current financial position, the value of the estate and the interests of the other beneficiaries named in the will.
- Disputes and challenges to the will - A person can also challenge whether or not a will is valid for a myriad of reasons, including but not limited to the mental capacity of the deceased person at the time they executed their will, any undue influence brought to bear on a deceased person to make a will in certain terms favouring certain persons or in some cases whether a will was made in fraudulent circumstances. If such a challenge is foreshadowed then it is important to apply to the Probate Registry for a caveat on any future Grant of Probate and to put the Executor on notice of the potential of any such claims being made.
Time is of the essence in making any claim as outlined above because of the strict timeframes that apply in making such applications. It is crucial if you are thinking of disputing your entitlement to share in an estate that you contact us immediately so that we can provide you with urgent advice as to your rights.
- Obtaining declarations from the court as to whether a certain document is or is not a valid will at law
- Challenging Wills on the basis of lack of mental capacity, undue influence or fraud
- Seeking orders for rectification of wills
- Seeking orders that as at a certain date a particular person was the domestic partner of a deceased person
- Lodging caveats against deceased estates where a dispute arises as to who is the most appropriate person to be granted Probate or Letters of Administration
- Obtaining Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration
- Estate Administration
- Assisting an Executor or Administrator to obtain advice and directions from the Court if they are unsure of how they should proceed in the administration of a deceased estate
- Claims made pursuant to the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act including claims made by a domestic partner of a deceased person
- Applying to the Court for orders to be made on a range of matters including but not limited to Wills to be made for persons lacking mental capacity or who are under the age of 18