When a person passes away, knowing what to do can be very overwhelming.
An application for Probate is usually required to administer a person's estate if their estate is large or if real estate is involved. However, some estates can be extremely large but because of how they are 'held' may not require Probate for release.
Probate is always required to transfer real estate to an executor or directly to a beneficiary if that real estate is held solely in the deceased's name.
Banks and financial institutions
Banks or financial institutions will usually only release funds in a deceased's persons accounts if those funds are over a certain amount, usually $50,000.00, however it is a good idea to check with that institution as some banks will require probate for accounts over $15,000.00.
Share registries will also require probate to sell or transfer a deceased's person shares if the total value of the estate shares are over $50,000.00.
Superannuation and life insurance
Some large estates however contain assets which include superannuation and life insurance. The administration of these assets will depend on such things as whether or not the beneficiaries are dependent on the deceased and whether the deceased made a binding nomination.
Ultimately, the trustees of the superannuation fund will make that decision and, in some cases, even though large sums of money are involved, it will not be necessary to apply for probate to have the superannuation death benefit paid out. Similarly, for life insurance, if the trustees are satisfied that the life insured is deceased and the nominated beneficiary identified then they will release the insured amount to that beneficiary without probate.
When administering a person's estate it is important to check carefully what assets are held, how they are held and each asset-holder's requirements for release to the beneficiaries.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.