Transferring personal property
If you have obtained a grant of probate or administration and published the Notice of Intended Distribution, or if a grant is not needed, you will need to transfer or deal with each item of personal property of the deceased after paying the debts of the deceased.
The personal property of the deceased may be dealt with in a will as part of the 'whole' estate, as specific gifts to named beneficiaries or as part of the 'remainder' (or 'residue'). If there is no will, the personal property is dealt with according to the rules of intestacy.
The 'remainder' of the estate is all property that is not specifically given to a beneficiary. Every will should contain a residuary clause which states which beneficiary is entitled to the remainder. If there is no such clause, the remainder of the estate is distributed according to the rules intestacy.
If more than one beneficiary is entitled to the remainder of the estate, those beneficiaries should discuss and try and reach an agreement about who will get particular items of personal property. If the beneficiaries cannot reach an agreement, they should consider going to mediation at a Community Justice Centre (CJC).
For more information, see the
Mediation topic on our website.
There are many different types of personal property. When you are gathering information about the estate, the various asset-holders should tell you what they require to transfer an asset. For example, they may not require probate or administration. For more information see
Working out assets and debts.
Clothing and household furniture
Once you have identified who is entitled to the deceased's clothing, household furniture or other personal effects, you can arrange with that beneficiary to collect those items, as there is usually no formal process to transfer ownership.
Before distributing any item of personal property, you must ensure that there are no outstanding debts and the property is not subject to any finance contract.
Accounts in the deceased's name only
Once you have identified who is entitled to receive money held in the deceased's bank account, you will need to contact the bank to make arrangements to either transfer or close the account. The bank may require a copy of the probate or administration. If the bank is willing to release funds without probate or administration, you may be required to sign an indemnity form.
Before signing any forms, you should get
If the deceased held joint bank accounts with another person, the other person is entitled to the money held in the account as the surviving account holder.
To close the joint account, the surviving account holder will usually need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate to the bank, close the joint account and transfer the money to an account in their name only.
For more information on applying to the bank to transfer or to close the deceased person's account, see
Notifying the bank.
Motor vehicles, boats or trailers
After you have identified who is entitled to any motor vehicle, boats or trailers, you must contact NSW Roads & Maritime Services to transfer the registration. For more information see the
If there is any finance owing on the vehicle, this must either be repaid or refinanced before the motor vehicle, boat or trailer can be transferred.
Animals If the deceased had any animals, these are considered property and are dealt with in the same way as other personal property. You should contact the local council for information about transferring ownership of the animal. For more information see the
Office of Local Government website
Superannuation and life insurance
Superannuation is not part of the deceased person's estate and is dealt with separately. For more information see
A life insurance benefit from one policy that is not more than $100,000 (as at July 2022) does not require probate or administration to be paid out by the insurer. If the deceased has life insurance contact the insurer or get legal advice.
If you discover additional assets owned by the deceased after the distribution of the estate, you should get