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How long does administration of an estate take?

It usually takes an executor from nine months to one year to administer an estate. This time starts from the date they begin administering the estate. More complicated estates can take longer.

How long it takes to administer an estate depends on several things, such as:

  • how complex the will is
  • the assets that are included in the estate
  • if the executor can find the beneficiaries (people who are left something in the person’s will) and if they are over 18 years old
  • whether anyone has made any legal claims against the estate or if anyone is likely to make a claim.

Some of the most common things that can cause delays are:

  • difficulties finding the will and delays getting the death certificate
  • problems identifying and finding beneficiaries
  • a person being incorrectly named in the will
  • payment instructions from beneficiaries aren’t clear
  • the executor can’t work out who is ‘in the group’ where assets are left to a group of people (such as ‘my nieces and nephews’)
  • issues getting a grant of probate, such as:
    • whether the person had capacity at the time they signed the will (if someone doesn’t have capacity, they are not able to make their own decisions)
    • not being able to work out if the will is the person’s most recent will
  • dealing with assets outside of Victoria
  • people making claims against the estate after the executor has the grant of probate
  • dealing with the person’s tax and tax returns
  • creating or dealing with trusts included in the will
  • problems with the will, such as if it is damaged or wasn’t witnessed correctly
  • dealing with complex assets, such as superannuation, retirement village units and shares
  • dealing with debts.

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