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How we administer an intestate estate
When we are appointed as administrator of an intestate estate, our responsibility is to confirm relatives that are entitled to a share of a person’s estate.
Sometimes this can be a simple process, but when there are complications, or when overseas research is required, estates are referred to our genealogy team.
Our genealogy team will carry out a research investigation to identify, locate and prove relatives that are entitled to an estate before it can be distributed. This is required by law.
How we carry out research
To establish who is rightfully entitled to an estate, we must carry out research to identify members of each ‘category’ of relative and their living status.
If there are no surviving relatives in a category, research moves to the next category.
Learn more about the entitlement rules for who will inherit an intestate estate.
Evidence we need
Tracing the movements of people from one place to another during their lifetime plays a key part.
Some of the evidence we must gather includes:
birth, marriage and death certificates
search certificates to verify children of the deceased, their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
We must also search birth, marriage, death and divorce events in every state and country the deceased and each relative lived.
Research takes time
By its nature, research involves long time frames and often spans many years.
Our researchers have specialist skills and deal with a high volume of complex matters at any one time.
In Australia, we work with births, deaths and marriages registries in each state. However, overseas research can be far more complicated.
dealing with jurisdictions, laws, record keeping systems and languages of different countries
extensive delays from overseas organisations responding to our enquiries
researching as far back as the mid-19th century depending upon the life span of relatives
inconsistencies in evidence that need to be resolved. For example, sometimes records show different names, dates, or places of birth to what has been recorded elsewhere. Sometimes there is no father recorded on the birth certificate.
Why we gather evidence
We need to gather evidence and locate all people entitled to an estate to ensure that it is distributed correctly.
If this process is rushed and a beneficiary is overlooked, the beneficiaries who have received a share may need to return part of their entitlement.
When we can’t prove next of kin
If we are unable to prove that relatives are entitled to an estate, we may need to apply to the Supreme Court of NSW for an order to distribute the estate based on our findings.
As part of the application, commonly known as a next of kin enquiry, we need to demonstrate that we have completed an extensive genealogical investigation and that we have performed our duties fully as administrator of the estate.
The court needs to be satisfied that we have done everything possible to establish entitlements. The estate may then be distributed.
When a person dies without a valid Will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’. In this situation, the law sets out how the estate is shared among relatives.
A person appointed by the court to manage or administer a deceased estate which has no executor.
People, charities and organisations who you decide will receive or benefit from your estate when you pass away.