I am an executor of a small estate. How do I start administering the estate?

Administering an estate involves collecting all the deceased’s assets, paying debts, and distributing the remainder to persons entitled and/or named under the Will (also known as the beneficiaries).

It is helpful to understand your options as an executor when administering and distributing the estate.

What is considered a deceased estate?

The rule is that any assets held in the sole name of the deceased are considered the deceased estate.

This means any assets the deceased held jointly with another person do not fall as part of the deceased estate.

For example, John and Jane owned the family home jointly (also known as joint proprietors). When either person dies, the rule of survivorship is triggered, and the surviving person automatically benefits from the deceased person’s share in the property.

What is considered a small estate?   

This can vary between States and Territories in Australia. It is recommended that you check with the relevant Supreme Court Probate Office Websites.

For example, in Victoria, any estate with a total value of $115,830 or less is considered a small estate, and this value changes each financial year. Whereas, in New South Wales, it is a total value of $15,000.

How do I make a small estate application in Victoria?

Like all probate applications, small estate application is lodged via Red-Crest Probate.

In support of your application, you are generally required to provide the following:

  1. A certified copy of the Death Certificate;
  2. The original Will of the deceased (if there is one);
  3. Details of the assets and liabilities of the deceased; and
  4. Your identification documents as the executor/administrator

Note that in Victoria, you may use the Supreme Court Probate Office’s service to assist with the lodgement of a small estate application, provided it is a straightforward application for grant of probate only.

Do I need a Grant of Probate to administer small estates?

A grant of probate is generally required when administering a deceased estate. However it’s possible to deal with a deceased estate without a grant of probate.

A good starting point is to understand what falls part of the deceased estate and from there, understand what documents the asset holders require before releasing the asset to you, the executor.

For example, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) required a Grant of Probate/Letter of Administration if the estate is valued at $50,000 or more. For estates valued less than $50,000, a copy of the death certificate, a copy of the Will (if there is one), a CBA notification form and proof of identification of the executor/administrator is sufficient.

Contact W Legal Group

Administering an estate can be a confusing process. Contact W Legal Group and our legal team can assist you through this difficult time.

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