The passing of a relative or friend can be an incredibly challenging and emotion time. It can be particularly difficult if you have been nominated to take care of their estate whilst still grieving. Add to this the accumulation of wealth with each passing generation, and executing a will becomes evermore tedious.
Wills, estate, and probate law is specific as it is vast. For probate, set processes, documents, and time frames exist for proper submission and attainment. Coupled with potential disputes and assets outside of the ACT and the complexity quickly rises.
If you happen to be the executor of the will, you may need a grant of probate before you even begin. But what does this even mean? Where on earth do you start? With everything underfoot, you need not feel the burden of a loved ones wishes. This is where probate lawyers can help.
Probate lawyers are highly specialised legal professionals dealing with matters surrounding the execution of estates. They are experienced in estate planning and wills, offering full-circle services that sees the transfer of assets from one generation to the next.
Engaging a probate law firm can feel like an overwhelming task. Fortunately, we are here to assist and have provided a shortlist of the best probate services in Canberra.
What makes a great probate service?
The best probate lawyers are consummate legal professionals, managing the end-to-end probate process with ease. They are compassionate, reputable and experts in dispute resolution, with many years of specialised experience in multiple facets of law. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a probate lawyer:
- Qualified & Experienced. Law is an incredibly complex field, requiring years of tertiary study. Following a degree, all lawyers are required to gain formal admission to the profession by the Supreme Court of the ACT. Additionally, they require a practising certificate. That said, qualifications are paper thin without some hard-earned experience. You will find that the good probate lawyers have years of experience and the case history to prove it. Moreover, the best probate lawyers are fluent in a range of legal areas that straddle estates such as property, business, trusts, tax, super, and family law.
- Specialised Expertise. No two wills are ever the same. Some are straightforward while others are more complex, involving numerous business assets and investments in several locations. As such, finding a probate lawyer that specialises in your type of estate is incredibly important. It will ensure that they have the depth of knowledge to understand the ins and outs of the law. And importantly, the breadth of experience to advise accordingly.
- Reputable. While being hard to earn, a good reputation does spread quickly. Reputable lawyers are leaders in their field, ensuring you will receive considered and well thought out advice. The best probate lawyers often come recommended. With this in mind, seek out those probate and estate lawyers with reputable backing. Speak to colleagues, friends and family, other lawyers, even do some research and soon enough you will find a list of the most reputable lawyers in town.
- Compassionate. The best probate lawyers are emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and are deeply compassionate. The grieving period often carries an emotional toll and compassionate lawyers understand this. As such, look for a probate lawyer that you connect with as their understanding will make the process much lighter.
- Resolution Resolve. In an ideal situation, obtaining a grant of probate and everything thereafter flows seamlessly. The reality however can be quite different! Executing a will can often be accompanied by disputes with beneficiaries or executors. As such, employing a firm that aptly handles estate planning and probate is key. Why – because sound experience in both fields will ensure swift resolution and a strong resolve to do just that.
The best probate services in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
MV Law is a well-known local law firm that recognises the particular delicacy when it comes to handling wills and estates, and always puts its clients’ best interest as the number one priority - you can rest assured that you will receive professional, qualified and sensitive guidance during this difficult time. The team’s stellar qualifications speak for themselves – four of MV Law’s expert lawyers have recently been recognised amongst the best in the country, named in The Best Lawyers in Australia 2021 List.
MV Law's services are thorough and comprehensive. When it comes to estate planning for individuals, MV Law can help you with a range of issues, from the preparation of wills to wealth management advice for complex family situations. MV Law delivers expert legal advice, guidance, and representation right here in Canberra. With a team of multi-disciplinary professionals, you can expect a hassle-free will service tailored to your specific needs.
Terri Stiller wrote the following in their Google review, “I went to [MV Law] to have my Will and EPOA drawn up. (...) They kept in touch, progressed my documents and gave me safe and secure options to submit my documents back to them. I found all the staff I had contact with to be friendly, professional and very helpful.”
BDN Lawyers has provided guidance to its clients in probate and estate administration for more than 150 years.
The death of a loved one is understandably distressing and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Seeking guidance and assistance from a lawyer experienced in probate and estate administration is the best way for an executor to perform their role with confidence, and to ensure the smooth administration of the estate.
With offices in both Canberra and Queanbeyan, BDN Lawyers is uniquely suited to assist with probate and estate administration within both the ACT and NSW.
As Katrina Healy writes on Google, "I have no hesitation in recommending Baker Deane & Nutt Lawyers... Richard Baker and Diane Savage have been very thorough and professional whilst making our experience a personal one."
Dealing with the death of a loved one can be stressful and complex, but you’ll feel in safe hands at DDCS Lawyers. They combine technical know-how, years of practical experience and compassion and sensitivity to guide you through the estate process.
DDCS has a team of dedicated wills and estates lawyers who can provide expert guidance on all matters from straightforward estates to complex issues including intestate estates (where a person dies without a will and an application for letters of administration is made), informal will applications (where a will is not properly signed or witnessed), contested probate applications (where the capacity of the willmaker is in dispute) and where the meaning of the will is unclear or in dispute.
They can also help with all aspects of estate administration, such as dealing with banks and share registries, transferring property titles, notifying organisations and beneficiaries and distributing the estate. They can manage the process from start to finish or step in as needed to handle those tasks you prefer not to.
Unfortunately not every estate is straightforward and DDCS can help when things go pear shaped. As experts in estate litigation, DDCS can help you navigate any potential disputes that may arise while dealing with the estate.
DDCS has consistently been ranked by Doyle’s Guide at the top of its field in wills and estates law in the ACT. And with Canberra’s only accredited specialist in wills & estates law, you can be confident you will be well looked after.
As Michael Miller writes on Google, "I have always received professional and efficient service from DDCS Lawyers. They're kind, caring and knowledgeable."
As one of Canberra’s most experienced law firms Snedden Hall & Gallop have built an enviable reputation that spans almost sixty years. Their experience, personal, and dependable team are exemplary practitioners particularly when it comes to probate services.
Headed by Julia Bridgewater, the wills and estates team manages individual clients with their probate and estate administration needs. Their team offers guidance on the execution of duties, including all necessary information gathering regarding assets and liabilities, along with obtaining grants of probate or letters of administration.
Julia Ovington shared this wonderful review on Google, “Excellent lawful firm with professional helpful staff. The lawyers there have a great deal of experience which gives clients a great deal of confidence. I would personally highly recommended Snedden Hall & Gallop.”
Located in the heart of Canberra, Bradley Allen Love (BAL) Lawyers boasts a strong reputation and track record for achieving positive client outcomes. Its specialist estate planning, wills, probate, estate administration and estate disputes team practices across all Australian jurisdictions, with a particular focus on Canberra, New South Wales, and Queensland.
If you’re looking for more information on legal services in Canberra, you might like our article on the best wills and estate lawyers in Canberra, the best law firms, the best divorce lawyers or perhaps this article on the best personal injury lawyers Canberra has to offer.
Your experience with probate services in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the probate services listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a deceased estate?
An estate is the net worth of a deceased individual. It includes all assets which hold a value (such as savings, superannuation, life insurance, investments, real estate, and personal belongings) along with all debts and liabilities (such as mortgages and loans).
What is an executor?
An executor is the legal representative responsible for administering an estate. An executor is responsible for ensuring the terms of a will are followed through. This includes locating and collecting estate assets, paying estate debts, and distributing the estate to beneficiaries as outlined in the will. A primary, or instituted executor, is often nominated as part of a will, and can include one or multiple persons. Backup executors, known as substitute executors, can also be named.
What is probate?
In short, probate is the legal process of proving a will and confirming its legal validity by the Courts. It also confirms the executor/s and provides permission to distribute an estate as described in the will.
What is a grant of probate?
A grant of probate is court issued legal order that authorises an executor/s to manage the estate of a deceased person as per the stipulations and provisions outlined in their will.
How do you apply for a grant of probate?
The process of applying for probate differs by state and territory within Australia. Generally, within the ACT, the applicant must publish a notice of intention to apply for probate in a daily ACT newspaper, at least 14 days and no more than three months before the application is filed. The application thereafter includes completing and submitting numerous legal forms along with the original will. Additional considerations apply should assets reside outside of the ACT, and if the application is being made by anyone other than the executors named in the will. For further details check in with the ACT Supreme Court and, as with all legal matters, please consider seeking professional legal advice.