A court of law considers a person who dies with a will as someone who died testate. A person who dies without one is said to have died intestate. Whichever way a person dies, their estate (assets and debts) must be managed and distributed according to the laws of the land. A personal representative is usually mandated to administer the estate of the deceased.
As a personal representative, it’s not obligatory to use the services of a solicitor or lawyer to deal with the estate of a deceased in Tasmania, Australia. Still, hiring one can help you simplify the process by helping you navigate through the legal process and complex paperwork.
Dealing With The Estate Of A Testate In Tasmania
The deceased person usually appoints the personal representative, or the executor, in their will before their death to oversee their estate when they’re gone. The executor is required to
- collect, identify, and gather all the assets of the deceased;
- pay debts and necessary expenses like funeral and legal costs; and
- distribute the remaining estate as per the will.
For the executor to perform these tasks, the Supreme Court of Tasmania requires them to acquire a grant of probate as required by Probate Rules 2017. This document will authorize you as the executor to deal with the deceased’s estate legally. However, the court has to verify that the will is valid before they issue the grant.
When a person dies testate in Tasmania, the distribution and administration of their estate are usually straightforward because they’re guided by the will. To locate the will, you might need to consult the deceased’s lawyer.
Handling The Estate Of An Intestate In Tasmania
The estate of an intestate in Tasmania is governed by the Tasmanian Intestacy Act 2010, which outlines how the estate should be dealt with. Like in testacy, a personal representative must deal with the estate.
However, the main difference is that the personal representative, a.k.a., the legal administrator (usually the next of kin of the deceased), is appointed by the court. And instead of a grant of probate, the court issues letters of administration. The administrator, like an executor, is responsible for calling in assets, paying estate debts, and then distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
What Is The Distribution Formula In Intestacy?
Tasmanian laws that govern intestacy determine the manner and order in which the estate’s liabilities and taxes will be paid. The laws also dictate how the remaining assets will be distributed.
For instance, the deceased’s spouse is usually the first to benefit after all the debts have been settled because they’re considered the closest relative. A spouse can be the current married, civil, domestic, or de facto spouse. However, in a divorce or civil partnership that ends legally, the spouse can’t inherit the estate’s remains.
Where there are no surviving spouses, the children are next in the line of inheritance. They include biological, step-children, and adopted children. And where there aren’t surviving spouses or children, the court will distribute the estate to the relatives in order of priority as follows:
- Uncles and aunts
If there are no surviving relatives, the state of Tasmania becomes the beneficiary of the estate.
While probate or letters of administration are required to administer an estate in Tasmania, there are instances when they may not be necessary.
Some instances include the following:
- Proceeds from life insurance proceeds
- Assets held in a trust
- Assets held in Payable on Death or Transfer on Death accounts
- Pension or retirement benefits accounts
- Jointly owned properties with rights of survivorship
An estate with low-value assets also doesn’t require probate or letters of administration. This is because not much may be left after the cost of either process and other expenses are deducted from the estate, which may defeat the cause.
How Long Will It Take To Settle An Estate in Tasmania?
Settling an estate in Tasmania usually takes 12 to 36 months, depending on the size and complexity of issues affecting the estate. However, distribution disputes among beneficiaries can also contribute to delays in settlement.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. Unfortunately, that’s a reality everyone must face at some point in life. Sometimes the deceased makes it easy to deal with their estate when they leave a will. A will makes it easy for the personal representative to administer their estate because it specifies how the courts will distribute it. It also outlines other wishes beyond distribution, like how they want their body to be treated once they’ve passed on.
However, in some cases, loved ones die without a will. Thankfully, Tasmania has laws that clearly define how their courts deal with these estates. The state also has a provision for people of indigenous descent, taking into account their laws, customs, and traditions.