Probate In The NT
Updated on Jan 10, 2023 • 5 min read • 112 views • Copy Link
Probate In The NT
The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory grants probate to officially recognise that a will is legally valid. This document also legally authorises an executor or administrator to deal with a deceased estate. While it is not always necessary to obtain a probate grant to administer a small and straightforward estate in the Northern Territory, an executor or administrator sometimes requires legal authority to represent the estate. This article explains the process of probate in the NT.
What Is A Probate Grant In The NT?
When a Northern Territory resident passes away owning property within the Territory, it is sometimes necessary for an executor or administrator to obtain a probate grant. The Administration and Probate Act 1969 and the Supreme Court Rules 1987 empower the Registrar to grant probate of a will and administration of an estate.
Probate is required for someone to assume legal responsibility to:
- Access the deceased’s assets, finances and belongings;
- Carry out the testator’s wishes as they are outlined in their will; and
- Distribute the estate as the testator intended.
Who Can Apply For Probate In The NT?
Only an executor that was named in the will can lodge a Grant of Probate application in the Northern Territory. Probate is then both a recognition of the executor’s legal authority over the estate and also a validation of the will as the deceased’s most recent and genuine testamentary instructions.
Another person (or several people) can apply for Letters of Administration to administer the estate if the deceased dies:
- without making a will (intestate);
- leaving a will but neglecting to nominate an executor; or
- naming an executor who has already died or who no longer has capacity or inclination to take on the role.
While anyone can apply for Letters of Administration in the Northern Territory, the Supreme Court is most likely to issue this grant to the deceased’s next of kin, such as their spouse, child, or grandchild. The court might receive several applications and have to determine who is the most suitable person to administer the deceased estate.
Applying For Probate In The NT
An applicant should apply for a probate grant as soon as possible after the deceased passes away. The Supreme Court requires that a probate application is made within six months but may make an exception if the applicant has a valid reason for the delay.
Applying for probate can be a complicated process, although some executors are able to lodge an application without any legal assistance. The applicant must submit a number of documents, including a Notice of Intended Application for Probate to one or more Darwin newspapers. In fact, it may be necessary to publish the Notice in another local newspaper if the deceased lived in a regional area (more than 200kms from Darwin’s General Post Office). The Supreme Court can only begin processing the application 14 days after the publication of this Notice.
The application to the court must include:
- a copy of the Notice of Intended Application For Probate;
- affidavit of Executor;
- affidavit of Legal Practitioner;
- affidavit of Identity;
- affidavit of Assets and Liability;
- affidavit of Publication and Search;
- affidavit of Death;
- oath of Office;
- Grant of Probate;
- original Death Certificate; and
- original Will.
After submitting the relevant documents, the applicant must wait for a response from the court. The wait periods in the Northern Territory vary according to the deceased’s and applicant’s personal circumstances, any special considerations and whether the application has been completed correctly. The Supreme Court typically grants probate within six weeks.
An applicant may be required to pay fees to apply for a probate grant in the Northern Territory, including a fee to publish the Notice of Intention in the newspapers and a filing fee which is a percentage of the gross value of the deceased estate.
After reviewing the application, the Supreme Court may request additional documents from the applicant before finalising the probate grant. This is called a requisition and is usually prompted by missing documentation, errors, or discrepancies in the application. When the court issues a requisition request this will necessarily involve a delay in the processing times. In addition, every requisition requires the payment of additional fees. As such, it is in the interests of the executor to ensure that all documents are lodged correctly in the original application.
A more serious requisition will be prompted if the court has concerns that the documents provided are not sufficient. For instance, if the submitted will is not an original document, or there are any inconsistencies in the names of the deceased as it appears on the death certificate. These types of requisitions can delay the granting of probate indefinitely, as the court cannot act until every requirement is satisfied.
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