Grants of probate go digital
Grants of probate and letters of administration should become almost impossible to misplace thanks to a recently introduced Victorian system which is swapping paper for digital documents. The Supreme Court recently launched the new online eFiling system, RedCrest-Probate, in a bid to make the probate application process more efficient.
What is a grant of probate?
A grant of probate is typically required when a person dies leaving a Will and assets and liabilities in Victoria. When someone dies without a Will, their closest next-of-kin are usually required to apply for what is known as a grant of letters of administration. These grants, which are issued by the Supreme Court, give an executor appointed under the deceased's Will or an administrator, in cases where the deceased did not leave a Will, the authority to deal with their assets.
Until recently, the Court issued printed grants to executors/administrators. Now, however, grants can only be viewed online. Each grant that is issued under the new system, which aims to make the lodgement and issuing of grants more efficient, contains a unique code. Anyone provided with this code, such as a bank or other asset holder, can view the grant online.
When is a grant required?
A grant of probate or letters of administration is not always required. For example, if someone dies leaving only jointly owned assets, then those assets will pass to the surviving owner without the need for a grant. However, a grant is required when someone dies leaving real estate, an accommodation bond with an aged care facility, a substantial sum in a bank account or a significant share holding.
What can an executor/administrator do once they have a grant?
Once a grant has been issued, the assets of someone who has died can be dealt with. For example, an executor/administrator can:
- close any bank accounts the deceased may have had;
- pay any debts the deceased may have had;
- sell or transfer any property in accordance with the deceased's Will
- make gifts of specific assets to any beneficiaries named in the deceased's Will;
- sell or transfer any shares in accordance with the deceased's Will; and
- finalise the tax affairs of the deceased and of the estate.
We guide our clients through the process of applying for probate and letters of administration, during what can be an extremely draining time.
For more information about obtaining a grant of probate or estate planning in general please contact the Wills and Estates team on 9550 4600.
Co-authored by Kate Williams, Associate and Clare Broomby, Paralegal