What is Probate…?
Probate is a court proceeding in which the following events take place:
The validity of your will is determined or your intestate (without a will) estate is settled
An executor or administrator is appointed
The executor or administrator inventories all of your assets that you held individually at your death
All your debts, taxes, and probate administration fees are paid
Distributions are made in accordance with the terms of your will or according the laws of intestacy in the that event you die without a will
This process does not occur overnight and requires experience to administer it properly in order to avoid prolonged lawsuits. Probating an estate can be very expensive and can take years to complete. It is not a private process, meaning that anyone can see what assets you have and where the assets are transferred. If these are areas of concerns for you, it's important to understand how to avoid the probate process.
Probate is the process of proving and registering in the Supreme Court the last Will of a deceased person. When a person dies, somebody has to deal with their estate.
It is usually the executor of their Will who administers the estate and handles the disposal of their assets and debts. In order to get authority to do this, they usually need to obtain a legal document called a 'Grant of Probate'.
To protect the interests of those who hold the deceased's assets (for example banks) the executor may be asked to prove they are authorised to administer the Will before the assets can be released.
The Grant of Probate is the proof required.
To obtain a Grant of Probate, the executor named in the Will must apply to the Probate Office of the Supreme Court. If their application is approved, the executor is given a Grant of Probate to confirm the author of the Will has died, the Will is authentic, and the executor is who they say they are.
An executor can be an individual or a trustee company like the Public Trustee. Once a Grant of Probate has been given, management of the deceased's assets can safely be transferred to the executor.
All Grants of Probate are stored, along with the corresponding Will, at the Supreme Court (WA). These are public documents. If a deceased person does not have a Will, validation of their estate and benefactors is not done with a Grant of Probate, but with a similar document known as 'letters of administration'. In these circumstances, the Probate Registry refers to the Administration Act to assess applications.