Losing a Loved One

13 December 2023

Alesha Benbow | Rees R & Sydney Jones

Alesha Benbow

Clerk, Wills & Estates

Where to Start with the Estate Administration Process

When you lose a loved one, it can often be a very stressful time for you and your family. To assist you in your time of need, we have put together as step-by-step guide on how to begin the estate administration process.

Step 1: Locate the Will

The first step after someone has passed away is to locate their Will. If you are not already aware of where the original Will is held, we would suggest making enquiries with places such as local law firms and the Public Trustee Office.

If you are appointed as the Executor of the Will, then it is your role to administer the deceased’s estate. You will find our brochure ‘Your Responsibility as an Executor’ on our website.

If you are a beneficiary of the Will, then we would suggest making contact, where possible, with the individual/s that are appointed as Executor/s.

It is important to make attempts to view the Will or enquire about the Will prior to making any funeral arrangements for the deceased as they may have specific wishes mentioned in their Will.

If the deceased does not have a Will, or you are unable to locate a Will, we recommend that you seek legal advice.

Step 2: Identifying the Assets in an Estate

The next step is to identify the assets in the estate.

It can be difficult to know what assets a loved one owns when they pass away.  A Will generally does not contain all the information you need to determine what assets were owned at the deceased’s death, and you will be required to do further research.

If you’re not familiar with your loved one’s assets, it may be beneficial to look through their personal property for items/documents to ascertain what assets they owned.  If possible, you may even be able to access the deceased’s computer to find electronic documents in relation to their assets as often organisations now only email correspondence.

Looking over bank statements can be a good place to start also – checking deposits, payments or direct debits may provide some indication of any income or accounts and policies that may be in place.

Step 3: Probate – what is it and when do you need it?

Now you know what assets your loved one had, do you need probate?

Probate is a document that is issued by the Supreme Court of Queensland validating a deceased person’s Will as being the last valid Will.  It recognises the executor(s) named in the last valid Will to have authority to deal with the estate.

Probate is not required for every Will. You may not need one if:

  1. the value of the assets is relatively small (e.g. a small bank account)
  2. the real estate is to be transferred to a beneficiary named in the will
  3. you have to sell real estate.

However, if the deceased held property with banks (over a certain threshold), share registries or an aged care home then it may be the case that the entity will require probate in order to release the assets to the Executor to ensure that they are releasing assets to the proper authorised person/s.

Either the Executor/s themselves or a solicitor can assist with the application for a grant of probate.

Our experienced Wills & Estates Team are here to help you every step of the way. If you have any questions about the VOI process, please feel free to contact us today.

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