What to do when a parent dies (NSW)
What to do when a parent dies, can be one of the hardest situations to experience. As well as dealing with the loss of a loved one, you may also have to deal and handle the effect of their death, which may include, ensuring that the wishes set out in their Will are carried out in the way they wanted.
If your parent has died, the first practical thing that you need to do is to determine whether they left a valid Will. This could mean searching their personal belongings, or contacting their lawyer, to determine if they have a copy of your parent’s Will. If you are unable to locate a Will, it may be necessary to advertise in the local paper, or law journal with your parent’s details asking any person who is aware of, or holding a copy of your parents Will to come forward.
If you locate a valid Will it will name the Executor that your parent has appointed to manage their Estate. It is the job of the Executor, to pay the debts of the Estate and then ensure that the beneficiaries named in the Will receive their inheritance.
At the same time as searching for your parent’s Will, you will also need to begin making arrangements for your parent’s funeral. If you were able, to locate a valid Will, then it may be that your parent left instructions in their Will about their funeral, including whether they wish to be buried or cremated. If you are aware of the Executor of the Estate, then they will generally make the funeral arrangements including paying for the funeral costs from the Estate.
After the funeral it will be time to begin itemising the debts of the Estate, as well as the assets of the Estate, which can include real estate, cash in bank accounts, shares, personal belongings and depending on how your parent set up their Estate, superannuation and life insurance. Once you are aware of the debts and assets of the Estate, an Application for a Grant of Probate will need to be made to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Once this application is granted by the Court, you will be able to begin dealing with the assets of the Estate in order to distribute them to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
In the event that your parent died without a valid Will, then their Estate will be distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy, which are set out in the New South Wales Succession Act. Under these Rules if your parent died without a spouse, then you and any siblings are entitled to the whole of your parent’s Estate. If your parent died with a spouse, then the distribution of their Estate will depend on whether their spouse was also your parent, or a step parent. If their spouse was your parent, then your surviving parent is entitled to the whole of the Estate. If their spouse was your step-parent, then they are entitled to receive your parent’s personal effects, a statutory legacy and one half of the remainder of the Estate.
The list of what to do when your parent dies is long and involves procedural matters, including court applications, to allow their Estate to be administered. The best, and number one, thing to do when your parent dies, is to find an expert Wills and Estates lawyer who can advise and assist you in the administration of your parents Estate. This includes drafting all the appropriate Court documents in support of an Application for Probate, as well as administering the Estate, including financial statements, once a Grant of Probate is made. Administering a deceased Estate can be overwhelming and confusing which is why it is a great idea to have the best legal advise you can obtain.
Graeme Heckenberg is an expert Wills & Estates lawyer and will be able to guide and advise you on Applying for a Grant of Probate. If you are living on the Northern Beaches and surrounding Peninsula and need expert advice call The Northern Beaches Lawyer today for an appointment close to home.