Information for estate beneficiaries
We consider it an honour to have been chosen by your loved one to take care of their last wishes.
You can rely on us to be here when you need us and to give you fair and impartial advice.
This page explains what’s involved in administering the estate and how we’ll help you during the time ahead. Our service is professional and independent but also caring and personal. We will:
- guide and advise you through the whole process
- understand you need time to grieve and make decisions
- listen to your views and consult with you on important decisions
- protect and manage your inheritance until we can pass it over
- be impartial and fair if there are any disputes
- keep you informed along the way.
What will it cost?
Our fees are based on the work we do – not on the value of the estate or the elapsed time.
If your estate is straightforward, it should be quicker to settle and will cost less. But if the estate is more complex or it takes more time to administer, it will cost more. For instance, it may take more time to sort everything out if there are a lot of beneficiaries (or some can’t be found).
How long will it take?
The time required to administer an estate can vary depending on the circumstances of the particular estate.
Generally, an estate will take 4–12 months to complete, but the estate administration process can take much longer if the estate is complex.
The process can be significantly extended where a legal challenge is made, property takes longer than expected to sell or there are difficult assets to manage like overseas property or a business.
What are the main steps?
Our role starts when we learn of your loved one’s death and ends when everything has been given to the beneficiaries.
1. First meeting
The first thing we do where possible is meet with you and go through what’s involved, seek your views on what should happen and talk about any issues.
Then we’ll confirm the plan for the estate in writing – usually within 10 days.
|2. Confirm assets and debts|
We contact banks, insurers and others to get full details of what the estate owns (and owes) and arrange for valuations, inventories and appraisals as needed, to help decide what to do with the assets.
|3. Get court approval|
While we are confirming assets, we will also apply to the High Court for probate. This gives us the legal authority to collect the estate assets. Probate is typically received 6–8 weeks after our first meeting.
|4. Collect assets and pay debts|
We’ll contact organisations, close bank accounts, sell or transfer property and other assets and handle the paperwork. Our job also involves making sure assets are protected (by insurance for instance) and managing them until everything’s settled.
We must follow the instructions in the will, but we’ll also seek your views on what you’d like done with particular items. We’ll keep you informed along the way.
Before anything can be paid out to beneficiaries, the estate must pay any debts and expenses. This may include the funeral cost and other estate expenses.
|5. Distribute the estate|
Once the expenses and debts are known, we’ll begin the process of distributing the estate. In simple cases, we may be able to settle everything at once. Sometimes it can take a while, so where possible, we’ll make an interim distribution along the way and a final distribution once everything is finalised.
|6. Accounting for everything|
Once everything is complete, we’ll send you a final statement detailing what’s been done. This includes details of all the assets, how they were distributed, any debts paid and all the costs and expenses involved.
Can a will be challenged?
A will can be challenged or contested if there are doubts around the validity of the will.
Find more information
Supporting beneficiaries - BrochureDownload