Chan & Naylor Pymble
Chan & Naylor Pymble

There are often many things one must do after a person passes away. One of them is working out the assets and debts of the deceased.

After a person passes on, the executor or next of kin will need to work out whether it is necessary to apply for probate or letters of administration.

This is done by gathering the details of the deceased’s estate including their assets and debts.

The definitions of assets and debts

Late Estate Assets consist of all property that a person owns such as their house, money, automobiles, shares, bank accounts, clothing, household furnishings, and their beloved pets.

Late Estate Debts, on the other hand, are what an individual owes, such as a mortgage loan, individual loan, or credit card debt.

Once a person dies, the executor or near relative will need to make inquiries to find out the details of the deceased’s assets and debts. If the deceased had an accountant, they may be able to provide this information.

Once all the details have been collected, you will need to work out the total value of the assets owned by the deceased.

If you cannot find out information about the deceased’s assets and debts, it is advisable to get legal advice.

Finding out the assets and debts of the deceased is necessary to help decide if you should apply to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for a grant of probate or letters of administration.

Calculating the assets and debts of the departed

There are a number of ways to calculate the assets and debts of the deceased. You may have to search for different documents to determine the value of assets and debts.

You may also need to ask relatives to assist you in sorting through documents to find the needed information.

Here are a few places where you can get that information.


Try to find bank statements, passbooks, debit cards, and credit card statements of the deceased.

You can write to financial institutions to determine the balance of the deceased’s accounts.


If the departed owned any properties, you need to acquire a title search from NSW Land Registry Services, or you can also ask a lawyer to get one for you.

In order to get a title search, you will need the lot and plan number of the property. If you know the property’s address, you can get this from your local council.

NSW Land Registry Services charges a fee to carry out a title search. You will need to get a title search for each residential or commercial property owned by the deceased.

A title search will tell you whether the deceased owned the residential or commercial property in their own name or with another individual as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’.

(Check: handy link – information regarding Capital Gains Tax & Owners of a Business) 

A title search will likewise provide information about whether the property is mortgaged with a financial institution or a bank.

If the property is mortgaged, the Certificate of Title, also known as title deeds, will be kept by the bank.

If the residential or commercial property is not mortgaged, you will have to look for the original Certificate of Title.

Start by checking the deceased’s home, ask the deceased’s previous solicitor or the local solicitors within the area.

Alternatively checking with local banks used by the deceased to see if the Title is held in safe custody.

If the original certificate of title is lost, you may need to apply to NSW Land Registry Services for a replacement.


If the deceased owned any vehicles, you need to find out the registration details and insurance policies.

You should also inquire about the value of the vehicles from a licensed motor dealer or valuer.

Shares and dividends

If the departed owned shares or dividends:

  • You can get in contact with the share registry of the business involved
  • Alternatively contact Computershare Australia Investor Services to determine the value of the shares.

If the departed owned plenty of assets, consider getting a professional valuation report.


If the deceased has a pet, they may have included some information in their will as to who will take care of the pet once they’ve passed.

If there was no will or no provision for their pet in a will, you should consider getting legal advice. Pet animals should not be left without appropriate plans for their immediate care and well-being.

You may need to contact your local council to examine the requirements that are needed to transfer ownership of registered pets such as dogs and cats.

It is also important to note that some animals cannot be kept as a pet without a license.

Check if the deceased’s pet is a native Australian animal, including native birds, mammals, reptiles, or amphibians. If so then you should contact the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for more information.


Life insurance and taxes are complex and everyone’s situation is different which is why you should seek a professional’s advice.
Talk to a Chan & Naylor tax accountant so you can be confident that every dollar will go to your loved ones when they need it most.