I am regularly contacted by clients facing pressure from relatives and beneficiaries of a deceased Estate to distribute the assets of the Estate as soon as possible.
Should I distribute the benefit of an Estate immediately?
Due to this pressure, some clients believe that as soon as they obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration of a deceased Estate, they must immediately distribute the Estate in accordance with the Deceased’s will, or if there is no Will, in accordance with the Succession Act 1981 (Qld).
Distributing an Estate in haste, and without obtaining proper legal advice, can potentially result in the Executor or Administrator becoming personally liable for some of the transactions they perform.
What to consider when distributing a deceased Estate
It is important that before distributing an Estate, the Executor or Administrator considers:
- Whether anyone has, within six months of the Deceased’s death, indicated that they wish to contest the Deceased’s Estate, or claim further or better provision under the Deceased’s Will;
- Whether anyone has made enquiries as to the financial position of the Estate (with a view to potentially contesting the Will or the Estate);
- Whether the full assets, liabilities, income and expenses of the Estate have been determined prior to distributing the Estate;
- Whether any person or creditor has claimed that the Deceased owed them money;
- Whether the Estate is liable to pay any debts of the Deceased, and if so, the priority of one type of payment over another;
- Whether there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding the management of the Deceased’s affairs prior to their death (for example by a relative who had power of attorney to attend to the Deceased’s financial affairs);
- Whether any beneficiary or potential beneficiary owes any monies to the Deceased and their Estate;
- Whether any beneficiaries cannot be located or have passed away;
- Whether any beneficiaries are yet to be discharged from bankruptcy.
It is important that any person that is acting as an Executor or Administrator of an Estate considers the above prior to distributing a deceased Estate, and obtains legal advice in relation to the above issues.
If you are facing pressure from relatives or beneficiaries to distribute a deceased Estate, or if you have any questions regarding issues surrounding the distribution or proposed distribution of a deceased Estate, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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