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Estate Administration in Brisbane

The activities and processes that are necessary to manage a deceased estate are referred to as estate administration. In Brisbane, these activities are governed by rules and procedures set out in legislation such as the Succession Act 1981 and common law principles. Within this legal framework, the personal representative manages the deceased estate either according to the testator’s instructions left in a will, or in line with the statutory intestacy provisions. In both cases, the personal representative must discharge their responsibilities with regard to the law as it relates to estate administration in Brisbane.

What Is Estate Administration In Brisbane?

Estate administration is the management of every aspect of wrapping up the deceased affairs after an individual’s death. As such, estate administration may involve:

  • Arranging for the burial and funeral of the deceased;
  • Obtaining probate;
  • Locating and informing beneficiaries;
  • Taking care of the assets of the estate;
  • Arranging insurance for assets;
  • Compiling a list of liabilities and debts;
  • Preparing last tax returns and other tax obligations;
  • Selling and transferring assets;
  • Preparing financial statements and other documentation; and
  • Distributing the estate as appropriate.

Who Undertakes Estate Administration In Brisbane?

In Brisbane, the deceased’s personal representative undertakes the duties involved in estate administration. The personal representative is either an executor named by the testator in their will, or an administrator appointed by the Supreme Court of Queensland. The court appoints an administrator when a deceased passes away before making a will or when the named executor is already deceased or otherwise renounces the role.

Both types of personal representatives handle the estate administration in Brisbane in similar ways, except that the executor is obliged to follow the instructions in the will as much as possible given the constraints of possibility and prevailing legislation. The administrator, on the other hand, has only statutory regulations to inform their estate administration.

Only someone named in the testator’s will can act as executor, and only certain people are eligible to be appointed as an administrator. In Brisbane, the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 initially limits eligibility to act as administrator to family members of the deceased, with an order of priority starting with the deceased’s de facto partner or spouse. If no family member is able to apply to manage the estate administration, the court can appoint anyone they see fit.

Estate Administration In Brisbane

Estate administration in Brisbane will often require the personal representative to apply to the Supreme Court for a grant of probate. An executor can apply for a Grant of Probate to prove the will and their authority to handle the estate administration. A prospective administrator applies for Letters of Administration in one of two different forms, either With A Will or Without A Will. Such a probate grant affords the personal representative the legal authority to manage the different facets of estate administration, including the collection of assets and satisfaction of debts.

Obtaining a grant of probate is also significant in that it grants the personal representative the authority to defend the deceased estate during legal challenge or contest. One of the personal representative’s chief duties during estate administration is to protect the valuables of the estate until they are given to the rightful heirs. If the executor or administrator does not discharge this duty diligently, the beneficiaries can lodge a complaint with the court.

Estate Administration In Brisbane: Costs And Remuneration

A personal representative is not expected to pay for the costs associated with estate administration, such as paying funeral expenses and court filing fees. The estate itself is responsible for these costs, either upfront or if necessary, through later reimbursement. A professional executor or administrator is paid a standard fee for their services, but generally, a family member or friend who acts as a personal representative accepts the responsibility on a volunteer basis. There is the provision, however, for a volunteer personal representative to apply to the court for remuneration for their labour, also known as the executor’s commission. In Brisbane, the court will only grant a maximum commission of 5% of realised capital and 6% of the derived income of the deceased estate.

The executor or administrator needs to keep meticulous records of their estate administration duties to submit to the court to justify a commission. The court reserves the highest level of compensation for those personal representatives who have completed complicated estate administration over a long duration.

Time Limits For Estate Administration In Brisbane

The time that it takes to wrap up the estate administration in Brisbane depends on the complexity of the particular circumstances. The personal representative should wait at least six months from the death of the deceased to distribute the assets of the estate, but even after this time frame, it may take significantly longer to complete the administration of the estate. For instance, the administration of the estate will be extended if there is pending litigation over the estate, if one or more of the beneficiaries cannot be located, or if there are ongoing testamentary arrangements in place, such as a discretionary trust for a minor child. Generally speaking, a personal representative is encouraged to not unduly delay the estate administration, and complete their duties within the executor’s year, but where delays are unavoidable the personal representative is obliged to extend their engagement until the estate administration is complete.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade of working in higher education, Nicola joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2020.

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