The time following the death of a loved one is always difficult.

The administration of a deceased estate can raise complex legal issues at an emotionally charged time.

To help you understand the process involved, we have put together a selection of resources dealing with many of the common questions about the administration of estates asked by executors and beneficiaries alike.

The initial stages of an estate administration

It is often difficult to think what needs to be done immediately following a death. A simple list of the most immediate tasks facing an executor can be located here.

Most formal steps in an estate administration cannot be undertaken without formal proof of a death. Read about death certificates and how to obtain them here.

Grant of administration

A grant of administration is the global term used to refer to both a grant of probate and a grant of letters of administration. Both confer formal authority on a person or persons to administer an estate. Although there are differences in the process of obtaining either Grant, once obtained, they have the same legal effect. Read more about a grant of probate and a grant of letters of administration here.

A grant of probate is obtained when the deceased leaves a will with a valid appointment of an executor. Read more about a grant of probate here.

A grant of letters of administration is obtained when the deceased either does not leave a will or leaves a will that does not validly appoint an executor. Anyone who obtains such a grant is called an administrator. Read more about grants of letters of administration here.

Estate administration

The process of estate administration is, at one level, relatively straight forward and consists of the following tasks:

  1. collect the assets of the deceased;
  2. pay estate expenses;
  3. attend to taxation matters (if necessary); and
  4. distribute the estate according to the will and /or the law.

However, the size and composition of estates today means that assistance from professionals for some or all of these tasks will usually be necessary. Read more about the steps in estate administration at the links below:

Estate administration – assets and liabilities

Estate administration – time frames

Estate administration upon intestacy

The rights of a beneficiary

As a beneficiary, it can be hard to know what to expect in terms of timeframes and information. Read more about your rights as a beneficiary here.

The rights and duties of an executor

Accepting an appointment as an executor can give rise to onerous and time consuming obligations. Read more about:

  • the rights and duties of the Executor here, and
  • about how an executor may be paid for their work and claim Executor’s Commission here.