Dealing with the estate of someone who died owning assets in Australia can feel like an uphill struggle. It can be difficult and time consuming to “unlock” these Australian assets so that they can be sold or transferred to the beneficiaries.
Usually your local solicitor will not be able to assist and may mention terms such as “Australian Grant of Probate” or “Re-seal Grant of Probate”. But what are these? Who is entitled to deal with the Australian assets after the owner dies? What exactly is required to transfer Australian assets in to the name of the beneficiaries? and Why is it so difficult?
If you are the executor or administrator of an estate of someone who owned assets in Australia, whether it is land/property in Australia, cash in an Australian bank account or shares in an Australian company, our answers below to some Frequently Asked Questions will help guide you towards successfully finalising the Australian side of the estate.
I am dealing with the estate of someone who died with assets in Australia. What do I need to do?
If a person from England and Wales dies owning assets located in Australia, the executor of their will, or the person entitled to sort out their their estate, is required to deal with these assets so that they can either be sold or transferred to the beneficiaries.
In order to do this, the person dealing with the estate will usually need to either apply for an Australian Grant of Probate or arrange to have the Grant of Probate from the country where the deceased person lived “recognised” in Australia.
The process of having the Grant of Probate recognised in Australia is called “resealing the Grant of Probate”.
If a Grant of Probate has been obtained in England or Wales it is generally easier and cheaper to get this Grant of Probate resealed in Australia rather than applying for a new Australian Grant of Probate.
Is it always necessary to obtain a resealed Grant of Probate to deal with Australia assets?
It is usually necessary but not always. It depends on the value of the assets. If the asset is of a particularly low value a resealed Grant of Probate may not be required. You should contact the relevant Australian bank or share registrar to find out their requirements.
If the asset is a property however, an Australian Grant of Probate or a resealed Grant of Probate will always be required.
I have a Grant of Letters of Administration not a Grant of Probate. Will this be recognised in Australia and can it be re-sealed?
If the deceased did not have a will, the person entitled to deal with the estate will obtain a document called a Grant of Letters of Administration instead of a Grant of Probate.
Both a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration can be resealed in Australia.
Should I instruct an Australian lawyer to obtain a Re-sealed Grant of Probate?
The process of resealing a UK Grant of Probate in Australia is easier than applying for a brand new Grant of Probate in Australia. That said, obtaining a reseal of a Grant of Probate obtained in England or Wales still requires an understanding of technical Australian legal rules, an application to the Court in Australia and making public notices.
Most people dealing with an estate where there are assets in Australia choose to instruct a lawyer in Australia to reseal the Grant of Probate, especially if they are not located in Australia.
An Australian lawyer with experience of resealing Grants of Probate will be able to efficiently obtain the resealed Grant of Probate to enable you to release the Australian assets in the estate. They will also be able to arrange for the Australian assets to be sold or transferred to the beneficiaries in accordance with their wishes.
If you are dealing with an estate where there are assets located in Australia, contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can put you in touch with an Australian lawyer who can assist in obtaining the resealed Grant of Probate and arrange for the Australian assets to be sold or transferred to the beneficiaries of the estate.