What You Need to Know to Process a Deceased Estate
Coping with the loss of a family member can be difficult, but the proper steps must be taken in order to make sure that whatever assets your late relative had are distributed legally and properly. Assets include money in bank accounts, real estate, and personal possessions as stated in the will. Here are some things that you need to know to make this process smooth.
There are a few legal terms that you may not be aware of that are involved in processing a deceased estate. The executor is the person chosen by the will who is assigned to distribute all things listed in the will accordingly; when the executor refuses this or if no executor was stated, the state assigns an administrator to this task once the will has been proven valid (also known as the probate). When no will was made before the death, the situation will be known as an intestate.
Contact a Bank
Get in touch with your choice of bank as soon as possible. Provide them with the details of the deceased (name, address, date of birth, and date of death) and your own (name, relationship to the deceased, address, contact details). After 1-2 weeks, the bank will send a letter to the authorised executors or administrators with instructions to initiate the process, in which they will list the documents that they require from you.
The bank will ask you for a set of documents, including the copy of the death certificate and the will. If no will exists, then you provide a document proving your relation with the deceased. This also depends on the value of the estate in question. If the value is less than $50,000, you are required to provide only a government-issued photo identification. If greater than $50,000, you need a Grant of Probate. After providing these documents, the bank will then give you a Finalising Estate Form to complete.
There are cases where the surviving family has no access to family funds while the process is taking place, usually if all the family money was stored in the accounts of the late relative. Unfortunately, a bank cannot rush the processing of the deceased estate. In this case, the surviving family must immediately contact Centrelink to discuss a potential short-term pension or allowance. If not eligible for either, the family can option for a bank loan, which most banks will be willing to provide in this given situation.
Before a bank can distribute whatever assets stored in the deceased's accounts, all funeral expenses must be paid and settled.
While the mourning time after the death of a loved one is difficult, it is always important to remember to keep yourself financially and legally responsible, especially regarding important assets.