How long does it take to finalise a deceased estate?

The time it takes to finalise an estate depends on what must be done and how long it takes for each step to be completed. Often third parties such as banks and companies in which the estate has shares are required to supply information and this can take some time to receive.

It is prudent for all of the estate’s liabilities to be paid before the estate is finalised.

The law in Victoria says that executors do not have to distribute the estate within 12 months of the death of the will maker. After 12 months, beneficiaries may be entitled to receive interest on the value of their gifts of up to 8 per cent in certain circumstances. It is prudent for estates not to be distributed fully within six months from the time of probate.

Some wills may require gifts to be held on trust until a certain event occurs (ie until a minor beneficiary reaches a certain age). In many instances the executor will become the trustee of that money and will have to look after it until the specified event.

In other cases, a gift may be left in a trust for a person’s benefit, rather than being left to them in their own right. Protective Trusts and Special Disability Trusts are examples of such ongoing trusts.

Where property is the subject of ongoing trust obligations, the executor should discuss these obligations with their lawyer.

Some gifts may be left as life interests only, so that the beneficiary is entitled to use the assets but is not free to dispose of them. For example:

  • the beneficiary who is given a life interest in a house may live in the property but cannot sell the property except in certain limited circumstances; and
  • the beneficiary who is given a life interest in shares may have the income from a share portfolio but cannot sell the shares and take the sale proceeds.

When that beneficiary dies, the asset that was the subject of the life interest (i.e. the house or the shares etc) then passes to the beneficiary who was left the‘remainder’ interest in the will.

Source: LPLC