Deceased Estate

Deceased Estate Lawyers

When someone passes on in Australia, the person leaves behind a deceased estate. The estate should be administered and closed — processes that involve various legal steps. Understanding how deceased estate NSW works is vital, especially for people dealing with deceased assets.

The following answers to deceased estate questions provide a deeper understanding of deceased estate law.

What Is a Deceased Estate?

A deceased estate refers to properties with monetary value that someone leaves behind after death. The properties could be real estate, vehicles, stocks and shares, insurance, cash at the bank, and household goods. Domestic pets, too, are treated as property for deceased estate NSW distribution of assets.

In addition to assets, the estate also includes the departed person’s liabilities. Any debts, taxes, and liabilities are cleared using funds or sales of the asset from the estate. Jointly owned assets aren’t part of the estate and pass on to the other owner.

How Long Can a Deceased Estate Exist?

How long a deceased estate exists depends on the circumstances of the departed. Generally, the estate might remain open until all the assets are transferred to the beneficiaries. Finalising a deceased asset can take 6-12 months or more, depending on the estate’s size and complexity.

Other factors, like the availability of assets and to whom the assets are being distributed, also determine how long the estate exists. For example, if the will is contested, the estate takes longer to close. After all the assets are distributed, the estate is closed, and the executor of the deceased estate is released from duties.

Can a Trust Distribute to a Deceased Estate?

Sometimes, a trust may distribute assets to beneficiaries. The trust comes in during the following circumstances:

  •     The distribution of the deceased estate without a will
  •     The will is invalid or incomplete
  •     The assets are distributed in a way not covered by the terms of the will and testamentary trust

In the above cases, the trustee can distribute the deceased assets according to their discretion. The distribution should be in the best interests of the departed person’s beneficiaries.

What Is Administration of Deceased Estate?

The administration of deceased estate is gathering and managing a person’s assets after death. The process involves:

  •     Identifying, locating, and appraising assets
  •     Paying taxes, creditors, and other debts
  •     Distributing properties to beneficiaries

The deceased estate law authorises the executor of deceased estate to oversee the administration. An executor makes decisions regarding property distribution and provides financial accounting to the court and beneficiaries.

What Is Probate on a Deceased Estate?

Probate is the legal process of authenticating and validating a deceased person’s will. In Australia, probate is administered by the Supreme Court of the territory with the majority of the departed person’s assets. The executor of a deceased person’s will applies for deceased estate probate when they need to prove they are authorised to handle the assets.

After an executor applies and the court is satisfied with the documentation, a letter of administration is issued. Deceased estate probate allows the executor to access and distribute the assets. The executor must act according to the will. Since the process is complex, executors are encouraged to enlist the help of a deceased estate lawyer.

Who Can Be an Executor of a Deceased Estate?

Anyone over 18 years old can be an executor of a deceased asset. An executor is usually named in a will. If there is no will, the court appoints a suitable executor. The executor can charge a fee for their services, as spelt out in the will or as the court decides if there is no will.

For small and simple estates, the executor may be a close friend or family member of the deceased. If the estate is large or complex, one can appoint a legal firm or professional executor to ensure appropriate administration and protect the assets.


At Stephen Wawn & Associates, we understand how difficult the loss of a loved one can be. We have deceased estate lawyers to assist with asset management and offer support for families. Don’t hesitate to contact us for top-notch services whenever you need help in matters of deceased estate law.

We also offer guidance on estate planning, debt recovery, litigation, strata laws, guardian trustees, and others.

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No part of these notes can be regarded as legal advice. Although all care has been taken in preparing all notes, readers must not alter their position or refrain from doing so in reliance on any of these notes. Stephen Wawn & Associates do not accept or undertake any duty of care to readers relating to any of these notes. All inquiries should be directed to Stephen Wawn & Associates.