Our role starts when we learn of a person’s passing and ends when everything has been distributed to all the beneficiaries. At the Public Trustee, an estate administration generally has five main stages:
STAGE 1: INITIAL MEETING
Where possible, we will arrange a meeting with all the beneficiaries of the estate. We can meet with all beneficiaries at once or individually. In this meeting we will:
- advise the beneficiaries of their entitlements under the terms of the Will;
- explain what is involved;
- develop a plan on the best way to communicate with each beneficiary (for more information please refer to our communications standards on our website);
- seek your views on the distribution of assets (although we are bound to follow the instructions in the Will);
- discuss any issues that might affect the estate.
STAGE 2: COLLECTING INFORMATION
During this stage we will collect information to confirm the estate’s assets and liabilities. We will also:
- obtain a death certificate;
- protect the estate assets;
- insure real estate and personal property;
- protect any business interests;
- confirm the nature and value of estate assets including cash, personal effects, real estate, shareholdings and other investments, business interests, debts due to the estate and any interstate or overseas property;
- advertise for creditors.
STAGE 3: GOING TO COURT
At this stage, if it is required, we proceed to obtain the authority of the Supreme Court of Tasmania to administer the estate. If there was a valid Will this is called a grant of probate. Under the Testator’s Family Maintenance Act 1912, once the Supreme Court authority is received, any person who is eligible to make a claim against the estate has 3 months to notify the Public Trustee of their intention to make a claim.
STAGE 4: DEALING WITH ASSETS AND LIABILITIES
During this 3 month claim period, we continue the estate administration and process by:
- selling assets (including real estate);
- realising the estate assets that are not subject to any potential dispute;
- collecting income;
- paying any liabilities including telephone, electricity accounts and rates;
- holding funds in our cash Common Fund;
- obtaining a taxation clearance from the Australian Taxation Office;
- preparing final financial statements and detailing all transactions in relation to the estate administration.
STAGE 5: DISTRIBUTION
Once the 3 month claim period has expired, providing there are no disputes in relation to the distribution of the estate, we will then proceed to:
- pay any cash legacies under the Will;
- arrange for specific gifts of personal and real property to be passed to the named beneficiaries;
- transfer assets to beneficiaries;
- distribute the proceeds to beneficiaries;
- establish any trusts in accordance to the terms of the Will or the law (e.g. when beneficiaries are under the legal age of 18 – the youngest age at which they can receive their interest in an estate in their own right); and
- prepare final income tax returns.