The legal, court-mandated process of settling a decedent's estate is known as probate. The process validates any last Will and testaments and resolves any inheritance issues. If the decedent leaves without a Will, the court must appoint an administrator for the estate.

Additionally, the executor designated in the Will is legally authorised to manage the probate estate, which includes allocating assets and paying off debts, during the probate process. So, this was about what probate is. If you need more details on what is probate and how long does probate take in Victoria, read ahead to learn more.

Who is The Executor of the Will?

The executor is responsible for carrying out each step of the probate process. This individual is designated in the Will of the deceased, who may name four people to share the duty. However, the executor will be the next of kin if the deceased didn't choose anyone. In any case, the next of kin won't always be the best person to assume this job, so selecting an executor is crucial (and creating a Will in the first place).

You could get chosen as the executor without being questioned. You can apply to "renounce" (renounce your responsibility) in court if you genuinely don't want the obligation.

What is the Responsibility of an Executor?

Executors are in charge of allocating assets to recipients and paying any unpaid debts (from the estate). Among the tasks on the list are:

  • Assembling all of the estate's assets
  • Estate valuation
  • Calculating your obligations and paying them off (e.g. a mortgage, loan or credit card balance)
  • Completing and paying inheritance tax paperwork
  • Funding funeral expenses
  • Distributing funds to the estate's heirs and assigns
  • Establishing accounts that will show how the estate will get managed.

Although all of this may seem overwhelming, you can hire a lawyer to manage the procedure on your behalf (and you may be able to pay them out of the estate if you obtain permission from the named beneficiaries).

Applying for a Grant of Probate

While applying for a grant of probate, the majority of the time, you must first obtain a court's approval before acting as an executor of someone else's Will. This procedure is known as requesting a grant of probate. Alternatively, it is known as applying for the award of letters of administration if the deceased didn't leave a Will.

If your question is how long does probate take in Victoria, either of the following applies to you:

  • The estate is simple and modest, or 
  • The entire estate is jointly held, and the survivor is automatically entitled to it.

How Does the Probate Process Work?

The executor(s) must first notify the court authorities of their desire to request a grant of probate.

The value of the decedent's estate gets determined through pertinent inquiries. An "estate" can include shares, real estate, automobiles, bank or investment accounts, and digital assets.

The Probate application must distinguish between "non-estate" assets and designated "estate" assets. Jointly held probate, such as real estate or bank accounts, as well as superannuation, which may or may not get counted as an asset, are considered non-estate assets.

The executor(s) prepares an affidavit that certifies the Will is the decedent's last testament, gives evidence of the decedent's passing, and lists the estate's assets. The application gets delivered to the court for evaluation and the necessary filing fee.

Once the Will gets granted, the executor(s) may administer the estate's assets following the Will. It is crucial to remember that before distributing and finalising an estate, the executor(s) must wait six (6) months following the deceased person's death and publicly announce their desire.

What Happens When a Probate is Contested?

People may contest a Will if it is invalid or the probate process doesn't get carried out correctly. To accomplish this, they must file a caveat with the Probate Registry, which will halt the issuance of the probate until the disagreement gets resolved. After six months, the caveat expires, but it can get extended.

How Long Does Probate Take in Victoria?

If your question is how long does probate take in Victoria, in most situations, probating a Will should take less than a year, though it occasionally takes longer. The following are a few variables that could prolong the probate process:

  • "Complicated" assets such as company holdings are more difficult to transmit to heirs than simple ones like bank accounts.
  • An estate is subject to taxation, mainly because the Internal Revenue Service will get engaged.

On the plus side, several states provide streamlined processes for smaller estates (those with a value below a specific amount), which can drastically cut the length of the probate process. For instance, an Affidavit is used to provide the distribution of estate assets without involving the probate court through a straightforward sworn statement (Affidavit) signed by the person(s) entitled to inherit probate property.

Will You Need a Probate Consultant?

It is not legally necessary; still, you may wish to seek legal counsel if you are involved in probate. It is especially true if you act as an executor or administrator and have concerns about your duties or conduct when probating an estate.

Overall, remember that having a plan in place is the most excellent way to guarantee that your estate's probate procedure proceeds as quickly and painlessly as possible. Although you won't live to see it finished, your heirs will undoubtedly be appreciative.