Probate and letters of administration

Estate Probate Lawyer Melbourne

Are you searching for a qualified probate lawyer in Melbourne that can provide an open and trusted service? Then you need to speak to the staff at Aitken Partners today, one of Victoria’s most respected and sought-after firms.

We are experts in Will and estate law and are committed to providing our clients with unparalleled legal services, supporting them through the emotionally distressing period following the death of a loved one.

Our estate probate lawyers work to ensure executors are given the proper legal approval to continue and complete their work settling an estate according to the terms and conditions stated in the Will.

At Aitken Partners we understand that the death of a family member is a tragic and difficult experience. There are many legal and personal issues that need to be sorted out, and our hope is that we can help make that job as straightforward and stress free as possible.

Through a quick and easy initial consultation, the Aitken Partners staff will be able to assess whether or not probate is necessary to execute the terms of the Will.

We understand that no two cases are the same, with different needs that must be met and various factors that influence and inform the outcome. That is why we take the time to work closely with each client, helping them to arrive at a legal solution that is best for them and their circumstance.

Our services will save you time and money as our experienced staff coordinate and manage the entire probate process, ensuring no costly or frustrating mistakes are made.

Grants of probate or administration

When somebody dies, their assets become part of their ‘estate’. In order to pass those assets to the beneficiaries, a person usually needs to be appointed to manage the assets, sell assets to pay the deceased person’s debt, and transfer the remaining assets to the persons who are entitled to them.

This usually requires an application to the Supreme Court of Victoria to obtain a grant of representation to administer the estate. There are two basic types of grant:

  1. A grant of probate: where the deceased has made a valid will that appoints an executor;
  2. A grant of letters of administration: where the deceased didn’t make a Will, or their Will doesn’t appoint an executor who is able to act. In this case, the Court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate.

The reason a grant is required is to prove to the world that the Will is valid, or if there is no Will, that the administrator is legally authorised to deal with the estate. In this way, a grant protects the family member who is acting, and protects anybody who passes control the deceased persons assets.

In order to apply for a grant, you need to:

  • Find the deceased’s last Will (if any);
  • Get details of the deceased’s assets and debts at the date of death;
  • Advertise your intention and apply to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Applications can be complex, particularly if there are any questions about the validity of the Will, or disputes among executors or family members. Aitken Partners is a leading Wills and estates practice in Victoria and have successfully navigated thousands of clients through their applications. Our team is familiar with the local procedures and have encountered most complexities at some point.

Administering an estate

The distribution of an estate depends on whether the deceased left a Will. If they did, the terms of the Will are legally binding on the executor. If there is no Will, the estate is distributed according to the law of ‘intestacy’, which in Victoria means that:

  1. If the deceased left a spouse, the spouse is entitled to:
    1. The deceased’s personal effects;
    2. 100% of the estate, if there are no children or only children of the spouse and the deceased;
    3. If any of the deceased’s children are not also the spouse’s children, the spouse receives $451,909 plus one half of the remainder of the estate, with the rest being divided between all of the deceased’s children in equal shares;
  2. If there is no spouse, the first group named in the list are entitled to the whole estate:
    1. Children and descendants;
    2. Parents;
    3. Siblings and their descendants;
    4. Grandparents;
    5. Aunts, uncles, and their descendants;
    6. The Victorian Government.

Once a grant is obtained, it is the job of the executor or administrator to:

  1. Pay any debts, including the funeral;
  2. Call in or sell the estate assets;
  3. Invest the money or proceeds of sale;
  4. Prepare accounts and comply with tax obligations; and
  5. Distribute the assets.

If an executor or administrator does not perform their job correctly, they can be personally liable to repay the estate any loss that they incur. If the estate is distributed too early, or not in accordance with the Will or laws of intestacy, the executor or administrator may be left holding the bag, and having to reimburse the estate from their own pocket.

Complying with the laws and obligations applying to deceased estates can be overwhelming. It is important for the estate to be administered as the deceased would have wanted, and to protect the beneficiaries’ inheritance from being wasted. Aitken Partners can help advise you and guide you through the administration of the estate, and ensure that every step is followed along the way.

Ask us about:

  • What to do when a family member passes away;
  • Getting a grant of probate or letters of administration;
  • How to get a grant where the Will is not signed correctly, is lost, or its validity is disputed;
  • Selling and distributing assets;
  • Paying or disputing debts;
  • Paying tax for the estate;
  • Your rights, duties and obligations as an executor, administrator, or beneficiary;
  • Defending the estate from potential legal proceedings.

At Aitken Partners we work differently to major or boutique law firms throughout Melbourne. We are made up of a smaller, specially selected team of legal professionals, each one focusing on a particular avenue or area of the law. This set-up allows our clients to feel heard and know their case is being handled by someone who truly understands and cares about the finer details of the matter at hand.

We have been offering premier legal services for close to 100 years, with a focus on providing our clients with true value for money and delivering a positive outcome for their case. 

At Aitken Partners we pride ourselves on delivering professional legal services with a local touch, working hard to represent and promote the values of integrity and honesty that form the backbone of our firm.

In addition to our skilled estate probate lawyers, Aitken Partners also employs skilled teams of family law solicitors and divorce attorneys. Our compassionate legal staff provide the guidance, representation and support that you need, working for you to achieve a positive and timely outcome to your legal proceedings.

We treat out clients with respect, sitting down for honest conversations early in the process to ensure they exactly what their legal standing is and the likely path the process will take as it moves forward.

To learn more about our available legal services, or to book a consultation with one of our qualified probate lawyers, Melbourne clients can call Aitken Partners today on +61 3 8600 6000, or visit our William Street offices.