Did you become an executor of a small estate?
If so, the first thing you need to know is that the administration of small estates varies significantly from large estates. Each Australian state and territory has different rules for administering these estates.
Administering an estate itself is a complicated process. From collecting the debts of the deceased to paying the due taxes, the executor of a Will has several responsibilities to carry out.
But how does probate in the case of small estates differ from others? Let’s find out more about probate in Australia in this blog post.
What is Considered a Small Estate?
Before you start administering the estate, you must first verify if the estate falls within the definition of a Small Estate. It is crucial because, as mentioned above, each state has different thresholds.
In Victoria, the threshold for a small estate is a gross assets value of $115,830. This value changes every year, and you must ensure you are looking at the current figures. Check with the appropriate Supreme Court Probate Office Websites.
Generally, these threshold values range from $50,000 to $100,000. Hence you must double-check and ensure correct classification before proceeding with the Probate.
How to Initiate Probate for Small Estates?
Compared to the usual norms, Probate for small estates are less burdensome and time-consuming. The intention behind these simplified probate procedures is to reduce the admin requirements as well as the costs involved.
As usual, the Probate for your small estate in Australia begins with an application. In support of this application, you are also required to provide the following documents:
- Your identification documents as the administrator/executor
- The original Will of the deceased person (if it exists)
- Details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities
- A certified copy of the death certificate
In some jurisdictions, such as Victoria, you can use the Supreme Court Probate Office’s Service to assist with your small estate application.
Make a note that a grant of probate is generally necessary when administering a decedent’s estate, but it is also possible to administer without it in some cases.
What is the Significance of the Affidavit Procedure?
The affidavit procedure holds great importance in probate proceedings for small estates. This procedure provides a streamlined method for obtaining a Grant of Probate or letters of administration (depending on the validity of the Will).
In this procedure, you submit an affidavit to the court, along with the required supporting documents. It should also affirm the deceased’s details, estate value, and beneficiary entitlements.
The court or a registrar will review your affidavit and, if satisfied, grant approval for the distribution of the estate without the need to go through the entire probate process.
How Should You Distribute the Assets?
Upon receiving the court’s approval, you (the executor) may go ahead and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. It must be as per the wishes outlined by the deceased in the Will or, if a Will doesn’t exist, as per the intestacy laws.
However, it is still important to settle any outstanding taxes and debts before distributing the estate.
What are the Benefits of Professional Expertise in Small Estate Probate?
Legal procedures can be complex, so having professional help will help you greatly in administering your estate. But how exactly can a professional help, you ask?
- Asset Valuation: One of your responsibilities as the executor of an estate is asset valuation. You must value the assets of the deceased’s estate, which is essential for proper distribution.
Therefore, a professional’s help, in this case, can be invaluable. They can value the assets accurately and manage them during your Probate process in Australia. It ensures optimal handling of assets, minimising errors.
- Debt and Tax Management: This is another crucial aspect of the Probate process. Handling this by yourself can be challenging, time-consuming, and frustrating. But a professional, on the other hand, can handle the estate’s debts and taxes efficiently.
Their expertise in this area guarantees proper compliance with legal requirements and minimises the risk of penalties.
- Mediation and Conflict Resolution: People are usually at loggerheads during asset distribution. It is inconvenient, but it is also difficult to avoid these conflicts in most cases. Trying to resolve these conflicts yourself can be a huge burden.
A professional’s opinion or advice is very important in these cases. They act as mediators between the opposing parties, who can be either beneficiaries or other interested parties. They not only try to mediate but can also come up with fair resolutions that are to the satisfaction of both parties.
These are the three big reasons why professional assistance is indispensable in case probate and even other legal matters.
Whether the estate is large or small, the probate and asset administration needs to be done diligently, and navigating the process alone can be challenging. So, seek professional expertise to alleviate the burden.
Professionals bring specialised knowledge, experience, and efficiency to the table, ensuring that the estate administration is carried out smoothly and complies with legal requirements.
If you are looking for reliable references, Probate Consultants are one of the finest professionals for probate in Australia.
From guiding you through the intricacies of the law to providing info on probate filing fees in Victoria, they streamline the process, mitigate risks, and expedite asset distribution. Embrace the benefits of professional expertise and let them lighten the load as you embark probating a small estate.