Deceased Estates & Trusts Administration

Why engage Sheehan & Co. to assist you in carrying out your duties as executor/administrator of an estate?

On the death of a family member or friend, Sheehan & Co will review your family member or friend's Will and associated documents and meet with you to advise you of your duties and obligations as executor of the Will or administrator of an intestate estate (that is, the estate of a deceased person who dies without leaving a Will), relevant time limits and other considerations in relation to the administration of the estate.

During the initial meeting, we will also provide you with advice about the meaning of any uncertain clauses and/or the meaning of the terms of the Will as a whole or the rules of intestacy under the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) should those rules apply. If there is any uncertainty, we will provide you with advice as to how to remedy the uncertainty (for instance, seeking the consent of all the residuary beneficiaries, making an application to the Court for a construction order...).

We will provide written advice confirming the details of our initial meeting with you which serves as an administration plan for you to refer to during the course of the administration of the estate. The administration plan included in our initial letter to you will spell out clearly what matters you wish Sheehan & Co to attend and what matters you will attend to in the administration of the estate.

In order to keep costs to a minimum, we encourage you to attend to procedural matters which you can comfortably attend to - for instance, notification of Centrelink, Medicare, Australian Electoral Commission, distribution of personal effects as directed under the Will...

You will walk away from your initial meeting with us clearly knowing how the administration of the estate will proceed.

Stages of estate administration

The administration of any estate can generally be divided into four stages. We will work through the following stages with you providing you with expert advice, care and attention.

The four stages are as follows:

  • Ascertainment of the nature and value of the estate's assets and liabilities;
  • Compliance with relevant authorities;
  • The collection of estate's assets and the payment of the estate's liabilities; and
  • Distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries pursuant to the Will.

Grants of representation

Where there is a Will

Where the deceased person has left a Will, there are two types of grants of representation that can be obtained from the Supreme Court of Queensland:

  • Grant of Probate - can only be applied for by duly appointed executors under a Will;
  • Letters of Administration (with the Will) - this type of grant may be sought where all the executors appointed under a Will have predeceased or have renounced their appointment and you wish to be appointed administrator of the estate. There are other circumstances where Letters of Administration (with the Will) may be sought.

Where there is no Will

Where the deceased person does not leave a Will and therefore has not appointed anyone to administer his or her estate, then he or she is said to have died "intestate".

The appropriate grant of representation which should be sought from the Supreme Court of Queensland in these circumstances is a Grant of Letters of Administration (on intestacy).

The above grants of representation have the same effect: they are the official recognition by the Court that the person or persons named in the Grant have the authority to distribute the estate subject to that Grant in accordance of the deceased's Will or in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

We will clearly advise you as to whether you are eligible at law to apply for any of the grants of representation. We will then be in a position to provide you with advice as to whether you should apply for a grant of representation and, if so, the type of grant of representation you should seek from the Court.

Why obtain a grant of representation?

The main reason people apply for a grant of representation is that some banks, financial institutions or insurance companies holding the deceased's money, investments or insurance proceeds will not release those assets without firstly citing a grant of representation. Depending upon the size of the assets, this requirement is usually non-negotiable but we will provide you with advice as to whether or not there is any merit in seeking to waive the requirement should you not wish to apply for a grant of representation.

Provided the estate is administered without negligence on the part of the executor/administrator and in accordance with the terms of the Will which has been lodged in the Supreme Court in support of the Grant or the rules of intestacy, the executor/administrator is fully protected by the Grant. This means that the executor will not be personally liable for any distributions of the estate that have properly been made pursuant to the Will or the rules of intestacy. This is the case even if a later Will is found after the estate has been distributed.  

Executor's commission

As the executor of the estate, you are entitled to claim a commission for your "pain and trouble" in administering the estate. You are also entitled to be reimbursed for your "out of pocket" expenses.

We will provide you with expert advice as to the amount of commission which you are entitled to claim from the estate should you wish to make such a claim.


Legal costs

It may be stating the obvious but it is worth noting that all legal costs incurred by you in the administration of the estate are paid by the estate (not by you).

During our initial meeting, we will clearly inform you as to the manner in which legal costs will be calculated and what the likely outlays (for example, advertising costs, Court filing fees...) will be.  

Our services in this area are tailored to achieve better outcomes for you

We can take away the stress for you by efficiently managing the administration of the estate including:

  • as indicated earlier, developing an administration plan with you;
  • corresponding with the beneficiaries;
  • closure/collection of bank accounts;
  • transfer of shares;
  • transmission of the title held by the deceased in land;
  • registration of record of death on title to land;
  • preparation of the estate accounts;
  • organising with you the final distribution of the estate; and
  • any other special considerations... 

Sheehan & Co has assisted hundreds of executors/administrators in the administration of deceased estates since 1989. Our estate team is headed by Michele Sheehan, Queensland Law Society Accredited Succession Law Specialist.

We have addressed numerous and varied issues arising from and in connection with the administration of deceased estates. Accordingly, we have accumulated great experience and expertise in addressing a broad range of issues. You will directly benefit from this firm's skill, knowledge and expertise in this area. You will also experience the benefit of the systemisation of this firm's practices in this area which ultimately results in a minimisation of legal costs incurred by the estate.

Beneficiary review

Where Sheehan & Co is not acting for the executor/administrator of an estate, we can provide beneficiaries with advice as to their rights and also review proposed estate distributions for correctness on behalf of a beneficiary. We will advise you as to whether the proposed distribution is in order.  

Make an appointment 

Our office is centrally located within the Surat Basin and we are pleased to meet with clients in person, via telephone or home visit to discuss your legal needs in this area.


Remember - it pays to get the right advice!