Beneficiaries of estates often wonder why it takes so long for an executor to administer an estate. While it may feel like a long time before you receive your inheritance, it’s essential to recognise that administering an estate is a complex process. In fact, there are common factors that contribute to delays in estate administration. 

Obtaining a grant of probate 

Depending on the assets in the estate, a grant of probate may be needed before the executor can take control of the estate’s assets and administer the estate. If a grant of probate is necessary, the executor must advertise their intention to make an application for probate with the Supreme Court of Victoria. After the advertisement has been on the Supreme Court’s website for at least 15 days before filing your application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. The Supreme Court of Victoria can take between 2 and 6 weeks to assess probate applications in Victoria. 

Locating assets & liabilities of an estate 

Undoubtedly, one of the key roles of an executor is to locate all the assets and liabilities of the deceased estate. Typically, this involves reaching out to organisations that hold the money or asset to request they release the assets to the estate. The timeline for collecting assets can vary from several weeks to a few months, depending on the size of the estate and the number of companies involved who must release funds to the estate.  

Claims against the estate 

In Victoria, it is recommended for the executor to retain the estate’s assets for six months following the date of the Grant of Probate. This allows creditors to come forward and eligible parties to contest the provisions of the Will. Under the Administration and Probate Act 1958, a claimant generally must make a Testator’s Family Maintenance Claim within six months of the probate grant. Contact an experienced Wills & Estates lawyer to discuss your options to bring a claim against an estate 

Final tax return for deceased 

Finally, it may be necessary to lodge a final tax return for the deceased with the Australian Taxation Office. If any of the following circumstances apply to the deceased person in the year of their death a ‘date of death’ tax return should be lodged. 

  • The deceased had tax withheld from their income (including interest or dividends). 
  • Their taxable income was above the tax-free threshold. 
  • The deceased previously lodged tax returns or had outstanding tax returns.

Additionally, it is often necessary for the Estate to lodge a tax return (which is separate to the deceased person’s tax return).  

Visit the ATO website to learn more about deceased estates. 

Estate lawyers in Geelong for administering an estate 

Understanding the reasons behind inheritance delays allows you to have realistic expectations and patience with the executor of the estate.  

If you are an executor seeking guidance or require legal assistance to contest a Will, our Wills & Estate team is here to support you.  

Contact Whyte, Just & Moore, Greater Geelong and the Bellarine’s trusted Wills & Estate lawyers, to meet all your needs.