Deceased Estate Administration Tasmania

When someone passes away in Tasmania, a person close to them usually takes legal control of the administration of their estate. Managing a deceased estate can be a daunting responsibility, as the duties involved are varied and complex. Few people are familiar with the process until they need to learn after the death of a loved one. However, the process becomes much less intimidating if a few key concepts are understood beforehand. This article gives a general overview of the process of deceased estate administration in Tasmania.

Deceased Estate Administration In Tasmania

The Administration and Probate Act 1935 governs the processes involved in deceased estate administration in Tasmania. Under this legislation, an executor or administrator acts as the personal representative of the deceased estate. A will-maker (testator) names someone they trust to act as an executor to carry out their testamentary wishes.

Alternatively, if the testator did not name an executor or the executor is unable to act, the Supreme Court of Tasmania can appoint an administrator by issuing Letters of Administration. An administrator is also appointed when the deceased died without making a valid will (intestate).  The Supreme Court usually grants Letters of Administration to a close family member such as a spouse or adult child of the deceased. If no beneficiary is willing to act as administrator, any appropriate party can apply for Letters of Administration.

Both an executor and an administrator can apply to the Supreme Court for a probate grant to assume legal control over a deceased estate. In the case of an executor, this process verifies the deceased’s will as valid and legally binding. It is important to know that it is not always necessary to apply for a grant of probate. In the case of small or uncomplicated estates, it is possible for the named executor to carry out the wishes stated in the will without seeking the authority of the Supreme Court. For instance, if the only significant asset of a deceased estate is a property owned jointly with a surviving spouse, there may be no need to seek probate from the Supreme Court. With jointly owned property, the surviving owner automatically gains full ownership of the property. However, many asset holders, including banks, require proof of either a Probate Grant or Letters of Administration before they will release large assets to a personal representative.

Duties of Deceased Estate Administration In Tasmania

The responsibilities of these two types of personal representatives (that is, executors and administrators) are largely identical. The major difference between the two roles is that the executor follows the testator’s wishes as outlined in the last will. An administrator, on the other hand, will typically follow the estate distribution rules outlined in the Intestacy Act 2010.

The executor must act in strict accordance with any testamentary instructions, so long as these wishes are compliant with estate administration law. For instance, if the estate has extensive debts, the executor might need to go against the testator’s wishes to sell bequeathed assets in order to pay outstanding liabilities.

One of the first tasks of the executor or administrator is to collect a list of the deceased’s assets and debts. The personal representative then discharges the estate’s liabilities, including funeral and burial expenses and tax liabilities, using estate cash or assets. After an appropriate period of time, the executor or administrator can distribute the remaining estate assets to the rightful beneficiaries.

The priority during the deceased estate administration is for the personal representative to protect the estate against challenge or loss. As such, the executor or administrator should secure valuables and insure any property during probate. Should someone feel that a personal representative has been less than diligent in their responsibility, they can file a complaint with the Supreme Court of Tasmania.

Trustees

Sometimes, it is necessary to appoint a trustee to manage part of the deceased estate administration. Trustees are required to oversee trusts for minor children, or for adult beneficiaries who cannot manage their own legal or financial affairs. In these instances, a trustee’s role endures beyond the executor’s role in the deceased estate, until the trust is dissolved. The role of a trustee in deceased estate administration in Tasmania is governed by the Trustee Act 1898.

Remuneration

Any outlays that the personal representative makes on behalf of the estate can be refunded from the deceased estate. Sometimes a testator will make provision in their will to recompense their executor for the deceased estate administration. Otherwise, the court can order that the executor or administrator receive a commission for their efforts on behalf of the deceased.

The wills and estate team at Go To Court can help with any questions about deceased estate administration in Tasmania. Our solicitors can give advice on any wills and estate issue, including making a valid will or eligibility to contest a will. Please contact the team or call 1300 038 223 to arrange an appointment today.

Author

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 Armstrong Legal in 2020.
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