How Long Does it Take to Settle a Deceased Estate?

When appointed to the post of the executor of a deceased estate, the lucky winner inherits an important role that will require them to administer the assets and liabilities of the deceased pursuant to what was in their Will (if they had one), among many other things.


However, the entire process is not as straightforward as this, and typically includes the following:


Reviewing the final Will of the deceased to confirm that they are the ‘named executor’ and therefore have the right to become the executor.

  1. Advertising their intention to apply to become the executor, which has the dual function of notifying any creditors of the estate that they should contact this person regarding the debts owing by the deceased, and it lets any other parties that may be interested in becoming the executor that they have some competition.

  2. Notifying any government departments of the deceased’s death, as necessary.

  3. Preparing and filing an application to the Supreme Court of that relevant state or territory for a grant of probate.

  4. Obtaining the grant of probate.

  5. Gathering information on the assets and liabilities of the estate.

  6. Paying the creditors of the estate.

  7. Attending to any taxation or accounting obligations of the estate.

  8. Distributing the remaining assets pursuant to the terms of the Will or rules of intestacy.


Generally, steps 1-5 can take around one to three months, with the remaining steps (including the minimum statutory waiting periods) can take around six to eighteen months from the date of death.


Naturally, things can go awry, which can protract these timeframes, such as when a concerned relative or the Supreme Court questions the testamentary capacity of the deceased when they made their final Will, or if your greedy evil stepsister challenges the estate for a distribution from the estate. Should these situations arise (or countless others), then this could blow out the timeframes mentioned above by a year or two in some cases.


At the end of the day, some estates may be simple to administer while others can be complex, even before a fly lands in the proverbial ointment. In either scenario, it is always best for an executor to seek legal advice to help them traverse the administration of a deceased estate to ensure that it is resolved as efficiently as possible.


By Steven Hodgson


DISCLAIMER: This article is only meant to give you general information and should not be relied on as legal advice. Speak to one of our lawyers for more information.


Salerno Law is managed by Emma Salerno, Managing Partner and CEO, who has a wealth of experience from operating her own businesses across Australia as well as a range of in-house and commercial experience both in Australia and overseas.