Costs and Disbursements 

As executor of an estate, you will likely be engaging:

  • solicitors to act for you in obtaining a grant of probate and administering the estate.

  • stockbrokers to sell or transfer any shareholdings owned by the deceased when they died.

  • real estate agents to sell properties owned by the deceased; and

  • it is quite likely that you will have to engage accountants to prepare and lodge all of the necessary income tax returns. 


All of these costs will be paid entirely by the estate as long as you have acted reasonably throughout the process. This normally means that you have followed the advice of the relevant professionals. As far as legal expenses are concerned, they are normally broken down into two parts.

  1. The first part is the solicitor’s fees for obtaining the grant of probate. As an experienced probate lawyer will have done many similar matters, they can probably charge on a fixed fee basis because they should know exactly what attendances are necessary to obtain the grant of probate.  

  2. On the other hand, the solicitor’s fees for their attendances that need to be done in administering the estate (i.e. after receiving the grant of probate) are extremely difficult to predict and therefore are likely to be charged on a time basis.


  • Disbursements are the solicitor’s out-of-pocket expenses in publishing the notices, obtaining Land Titles Office searches, ASIC searches, law stationer’s fees, Land Titles Office registration fees, perhaps couriers, etc.

Most commonly the first legal bill you will receive as executor will be immediately after the court makes the grant of probate, and from then on there will be bills issued by the estate solicitors at the end of each month during the administration of the estate.

The total amount of the bills for the administration will depend on many things such as:

  • how many bank accounts there are;

  • how many separate shareholdings there are;

  • whether the shares were on CHESS, issuer sponsored or broker sponsored;

  • how many beneficiaries there are;

  • how many properties there are, etc.

In any case, as executor you will want to instruct solicitors who are experienced in estate matters and who have streamlined processes and systems within their office to do the work.