Estate Administration Lawyers in Tasmania

Administration of an estate in Tasmania can be a slow, costly process. Administrators, however, have a duty to get it right by complying with laws and preserving the deceased's wishes. Competing interests, however, can compound the process.

At Finlay Watchorn, our estate administration lawyers understand the diverse sensitivities involved in administering an estate. With our expertise and commitment to excellence, we strive to provide comprehensive legal services tailored to meet the unique needs of each client. Contact us at 03 6229 5655 to schedule a consultation today.

Overview of Estate Administration in Australia

Estate administration in Australia is governed by various laws, most of which are on a state or territory level, like the Succession Act 2006 (New South Wales) or the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Victoria). These laws outline how an estate administrator distributes a deceased person's assets and settles their debts.

The estate administrator, also known as the executor or administrator, is usually appointed by the deceased in their will or, if no will exists, by the court. The chosen individual should possess qualities such as integrity, diligence, and a good understanding of financial matters. These qualifications matter because how smoothly the administration of the estate goes depends on the administrator's abilities.

Basic Estate Administration Process in Tasmania

In Australia, the estate administration process may vary somewhat among states and territories, but the process overall is the same. Those key elements are summarised below.

Identification of Assets and Liabilities

The first step in estate administration is to identify and locate all assets and liabilities of the deceased.

Examples of Assets
  • Bank accounts

  • Real estate

  • Investments

  • Stocks and bonds

  • Vehicles

  • Insurance policies

  • Retirement accounts

  • Personal belongings (like jewellry, art, or heirlooms)

Examples of Debt
  • Personal loans

  • Business loans

  • Credit card debt

  • Tax obligations

  • Legal obligations

Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration

If the deceased left a valid will, the executor named in the will must apply for a grant of probate from the Supreme Court – all probate applications go through each respective state's Supreme Court. Probate is a legal document that confirms the executor's authority to administer the estate according to the terms of the will.

If there is no valid will or if the appointed executor is unable or unwilling to act, an eligible person can apply for letters of administration, which grants them the authority to administer the estate in accordance with intestacy laws.

Notification of Beneficiaries and Creditors

Once probate or letters of administration are obtained, the executor or administrator must notify beneficiaries named in the will and creditors of the deceased's passing. Creditors typically have a specified period to lodge claims against the estate.

Paying Debts and Taxes

The executor or administrator is responsible for settling any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased. This may involve selling assets, using funds from the estate, or obtaining loans if necessary.

Distribution of Assets

After debts, taxes, and administrative expenses are paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or intestacy laws. This process should be carried out diligently and in accordance with legal requirements to avoid disputes or challenges.

Finalising the Estate

Once all assets have been distributed, the estate accounts are finalised, and a statement of distribution is prepared. This document outlines how the estate assets were distributed and is submitted to the court for approval, along with any necessary tax returns.

Closing the Estate

After obtaining court approval, the executor or administrator can finalise the estate administration process by closing bank accounts, transferring property titles, and completing any other necessary administrative tasks.

Common Estate Disputes in Tasmania

Despite careful planning, estate administration can sometimes be met with challenges and disputes.

  • Contesting the Will: Disputes may arise when beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries feel they have been unfairly treated or inadequately provided for in the will. This can lead to legal challenges seeking to contest the validity of the will or claim greater provision from the estate.

  • Executor Disputes: Conflict may arise among executors or between executors and beneficiaries regarding the management and distribution of the estate. This can include disputes over the interpretation of the will, the handling of estate assets, or allegations of executor misconduct.

  • Family Provision Claims: In some cases, family members or dependents who believe they have not been adequately provided for in the will may make a family provision claim seeking greater provision from the estate. These claims can lead to disputes over the deceased's testamentary intentions and the appropriate distribution of assets.

  • Property Disputes: Disputes may arise over specific assets or properties within the estate, particularly if there are disagreements about ownership, valuation, or distribution. This can include disputes over real estate, personal property, investments, or business interests.

  • Tax and Financial Issues: Estate administration often involves complex tax and financial considerations, including capital gains tax, stamp duty, and estate administration tax (if applicable). Disputes may arise over the valuation of assets, tax liabilities, or the distribution of funds among beneficiaries.

  • Creditor Claims: Creditors of the deceased may make claims against the estate for outstanding debts or liabilities. Disputes can arise over the validity or priority of these claims, particularly if the estate's assets are insufficient to cover all debts.

  • Intestacy: If the deceased did not leave a valid will, disputes may arise over the distribution of assets according to intestacy laws. This can involve determining rightful heirs and resolving conflicts between family members or other potential beneficiaries.

These challenges are just some of what can occur in Tasmania. Resolving them often requires careful legal guidance and may involve mediation, negotiation, or litigation. At Finlay Watchorn, our estate administration attorneys will be with you each step of the way, acting proactively to avoid disputes but ready to act when a challenge presents itself.

Estate Administration Legal Services in Tasmania

At Finlay Watchorn, we offer a range of legal services to facilitate a smooth and efficient estate administration process. Our services include:

  • Advising executors and administrators on their duties and responsibilities.

  • Resolving disputes among beneficiaries or challenging the validity of a will.

  • Providing tax planning advice to minimise tax liabilities for the estate.

We also assist clients with the preparation and submission of:

  • Probate

  • Letters of administration applications

  • Letters of administration with will annexed

  • Family provision claims

  • Survivorship applications

  • Resealing of probates and letters of administration

Getting estate administration right depends on the kind of legal guidance you obtain – make sure to consult with us first so that we can provide the insight you need to move forward timely and properly.

Why Choose Finlay Watchorn for Estate Administration Guidance

Clients choose us because they want estate administration to be a seamless and hassle-free process. Here are just a few reasons why you should retain our estate administration services at Finlay Watchorn.

  • We are an experienced and knowledgeable team of estate planning lawyers.

  • We take a personalised approach to your specific needs and circumstances.

  • We have a track record of delivering successful outcomes for our clients.

  • We are compassionate and dedicated support throughout every stage of the process.

The combination of these qualities and qualifications makes us a leading estate administration team in Finlay Watchorn.

Contact our Estate Administration Lawyers in Tasmania Today

Don't navigate the complexities of estate administration alone. Contact Finlay Watchorn today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers. Let us guide you through the process and provide the peace of mind you deserve during this challenging time. Your loved one's legacy deserves to be handled with care and expertise. Call on 03 6229 5655 to book a consultation and secure your loved one's legacy.

Finlay & Watchorn

On 8 July 1880, the law firm of Finlay & Watchorn was founded by William Alexander Finlay and Arthur Denison Watchorn in a modest 2-storey Victorian Building at 32 Murray Street, Hobart. In the early 1980s the firm opened an office at Kingston in the rapidly expanding municipality of Kingborough and since 2010 the firm has been wholly based in Kingston.

Online or In Person

Our office is in Kingston, but you do not need to come to Kingston to instruct us. We regularly meet with clients online by Zoom or Microsoft Teams and can arrange home or hospital visits where necessary. If you do wish to visit, we have free client parking immediately behind our premises.