Overview

If the deceased person passed away without leaving behind a spouse, dependant or other person living together, the last residence of the deceased can be cleared after stock of all items was taken. We recommend using our Home Contents & Personal Belongings Inventory to capture all items before you:
  • clear the residence;
  • hand back the rental property or residence if it was rented;
  • prepare the property to be rented out if owned; and/or
  • prepare the property to be valued (see Step 17) if owned.

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16.1 General Considerations

Before launching into this step, it is important to be aware of certain aspects surrounding the home or final residence of the deceased.

For the mourning family, the home or residence will remind them of their loved one and hence returning to that place can be very emotional. Bear in mind that the family may want to spend some time in the deceased person’s residence as part of their mourning process and for closure.

Furthermore, personal belongings and other items found in the home or residence may have great sentimental value to individuals. The desire to take possession of certain items by a Beneficiary is very likely.
As the Executor or Administrator, it is your responsibility to explain that all the deceased person’s items form part of the estate and can only be distributed once officially recorded and divided after the total value of the estate is known unless specifically willed to a Beneficiary as outlined below in Step 16.2 – Specific Items Willed to a Beneficiary.

Note: Removing an item from the deceased person’s estate may be considered a crime if it is disputed by other Beneficiaries.

It is important to complete the simplyEstate Home Contents & Personal Belongings Inventory as soon as possible and continuously update it to have a full overview of all items that make up the estate.

Note:Before moving anything, it may be essential to put in place home & contents insurance if not already done. This will protect you as the Executor or Administrator and all Beneficiaries of the estate during the administration process, which often extends beyond six months.

Switch off any electrical equipment that are not required to save electricity and ensure that any perishable goods are removed from fridges, freezers and any other storage.

If time is of the essence, furniture and belongings can be packed and stored in another location while the deceased estate is being assessed and prepared for distribution by the Executor.

16.2 Specific Items Willed to a Beneficiary

Notwithstanding the above, if the Will names specific items that are intended for a Beneficiary, it may be easiest if those Beneficiaries are asked to collect the specific items as soon as possible. If the item can be identified, the Beneficiary may take possession of the item without waiting for division of the deceased estate.

Note: We recommend you take note or a photograph of the item, the Beneficiary’s name, date and signature in case a claim for that item is made at a later stage.

All other items that are not specifically willed, form part of the estate and will be distributed once the total value of the estate is known.

16.3 Value the Contents

All contents of the deceased person’s last residence, or the remaining contents after the Beneficiaries have taken possession of willed items, should be valued by a professional valuer.
As the Executor or Administrator, you should discuss and agree with the Beneficiaries whether or not those remaining contents are to be sold for cash or retained and distributed to Beneficiaries.

From experience, cash is easier to distribute so long as items with a sentimental value were identified before the sale and were communicated to all Beneficiaries with sufficient notice to provide opportunity to claim such items.

16.4 Rental Property

If the deceased lived in a rental property, you most likely want to clear the residence as soon as possible and restore it to its original condition. You can then hand back the property to the managing agent or proprietor and stop paying rent.

If you want to accelerate the clearance, you can pack and store all the furnishings, chattels and personal belongings at a storage facility while the estate is being administered.

You may need to:
  • find out who the letting agent is and inform them in writing of the death;
  • request a copy of the rental agreement if you need to determine if the agreement was signed by the deceased person solely as a sole tenant or jointly with another person as joint tenants; and
  • understand your state’s legislation as outlined below to determine notice periods and bond claims.
New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney change State

Fair Trading NSW

Phone: 13 32 20
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm AEST
Address: Service NSW Centre near you can be found here
Email: [email protected]
Post: Locked Bag 9000, Grafton NSW 2460

Sole tenant

The rental agreement ends when the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin provides written notice to the landlord or its agent. Once the property was cleared and handed over, no further rent is payable.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT 2010 (NSW) Section 108 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Relevant Documents
The bond can be requested from Fair Trading by completing and providing: and one of the following: Joint Tenant

The rental agreement may either continue as agreed between the surviving joint tenant and the landlord or the surviving joint tenant may give written notice to end the contract in 21 days or more, irrelevant if the rental agreement was for a fixed period or ongoing.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT 2010 (NSW) Section 78 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Relevant Documents
The portion of the bond belonging to the deceased person can be claimed as stated above like a sole tenant or transferred to the surviving joint tenant by completing and providing: and one of the following: Website

Find out more on the Fair Trading NSW website.

Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State

Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA)

Phone: 1300 137 164
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm AEST
Lodge Online: You can lodge online
Address: Find an RTBA near you
Email: Submit an online enquiry with RTBA
Post: RTBA, Locked Bag 007, Wendouree VIC 3355

Sole Tenant
The rental agreement ends:
  • on the date provided by the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin in the notice of intention to vacate due to the death;
  • on the date provided by the landlord to the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin in the notice of intention to vacate due to the death;
  • on a date determined by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal; or
  • on a date agreed in writing between the landlord and the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin.

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT 1997 (VIC) Section 91N (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Relevant Documents
The bond can be claimed from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority by printing, completing and providing:
  • a Bond Claim form, which you need to generate through the online RTBA Online tool by entering the bond number and the deceased person’s name;
  • a Statutory Declaration – Statutory Declaration by Legal Representative or Next of Kin;
and one of the following:
  • Death Certificate;
  • Probate certificate (see Step 27 – Apply for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration);
  • Cremation certificate;
  • Funeral notice (invoice);
  • Statement from a Doctor/hospital;
  • Notice from Centrelink confirming date of death;
  • Report for coroner; or
  • Interim Death Certificate.

Please ensure that you as the Executor or Administrator sign on behalf of the deceased tenant on both the ‘Bond Claim’ form and Statutory Declaration.

Joint Tenant

The rental agreement continues as agreed between the surviving joint tenant and the landlord.

The portion of the bond belonging to the deceased person can only be transferred to the surviving joint tenant or be paid out in full together with the portion of the surviving joint tenant’s bond.
Partial bond claims can only be made in arrangement with the surviving joint tenant or by applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Relevant Documents
To transfer the bond to the surviving joint tenant, the surviving joint tenant can complete a:
  • Bond Transfer form or a Bond Claim form, which can be generated through the online RTBA Online tool by entering the bond number and the tenant’s name;
and provide one of the following:

Note: Only the surviving joint tenant must sign these documents and not the Executor or Administrator.

If you don’t have access to a printer, you can submit an online enquiry with the RTBA with your specific bond number, tenant name, postal address and the form will be posted to you within 14 days.

Website

Find out more on the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) website.

Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State

Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA)

Phone: 1300 366 311
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5:00pm AEST
Lodge online: You can lodge online
Post: RTA, GPO Box 390, Brisbane QLD 4001

Sole Tenant
The rental agreement ends on the earliest of the following:
  • 14 days after the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin notifies the landlord in writing to end the agreement because of the death;
  • 14 days after the landlord notifies the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin in writing to end the agreement because of the death;
  • the day agreed between the landlord and the Executor, Administrator of Next of Kin;
  • the day decided by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) after application by the landlord; or
  • if none of the above were done, the agreement ends one month after the tenant’s death.

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AND ROOMING ACCOMMODATION ACT 2008 (QLD) Section 277, Paragraphs 7-8 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Relevant Documents
The bond can be requested from the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) by completing and providing: and one of the following:
  • a Death Certificate; or
  • an Interim Death Certificate;
and one of the following: Joint Tenant

The rental agreement continues as agreed between the surviving joint tenant and the landlord.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AND ROOMING ACCOMMODATION ACT 2008 (QLD) Section 244 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Relevant Documents
The portion of the bond belonging to the deceased person can only be claimed from the surviving joint tenant directly after the surviving joint tenant completes and provides: and one of the following:
  • a Death Certificate; or
  • an Interim Death Certificate;
and one of the following: Website

Find out more on the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) website.

16.5 Nursing or Care Home

If the deceased lived in a nursing home, you most likely want to clear the residence as soon as possible to hand back the room and stop payments.

Make sure you check the agreement and determine the notice period agreed to. If you cannot find the contract, the nursing home can provide you with a copy that was signed by the deceased.

Tip: If you want to accelerate the clearance, you can pack and store all the furnishings, chattels and personal belongings at a storage facility while the estate is being administered.

16.6 Owned House or Apartment

If the deceased lived in their own home, you may not want to or need to clear the residence immediately. The Beneficiaries may agree to clear the home and rent it out to generate income for the estate during the administration or sell. If this is the path you want to explore, it is recommended you seek advice from a tax specialist as some tax rules may apply once the real estate is used to generate income as an investment.

Tip: If you want to accelerate the clearance, you can pack and store all the furnishings, chattels and personal belongings at a storage facility while the estate is being administered.

Beware of pressure tactics by buyers who may approach you with a below-market offer who may be taking advantage of your situation. Always get a comprehensive valuation done by a specialist or multiple appraisals by real estate agents as outlined in Step 17 – Property Valuation for Deceased Estate & Arrange for Rent or Sale.

16.7 What to do With Unwanted Household Goods & Items

Some household goods or items may be left over or unwanted. After the home or residence is cleared, specifically willed items are collected by the nominated beneficiary and any other items are distributed as agreed among beneficiaries. Before disposing of any unwanted remaining items, it may be worth checking if a charitable organisation near you may be able to collect and re-use or donate items.

Note: Landfill is the most expensive way of disposing items and hence it could pay to do some good for people in need, the environment and the save some money for the estate.

16.7.1 Donating

It’s always a good time to give by making a difference in someone else’s life by donating unwanted items that are still in good condition. A number of charitable organisations exist that re-use household items including:
  • Clothing
  • Accessories
  • Toys
  • Books
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Furniture
  • Homewares
  • Electrical Goods

It is always best to contact the organisations beforehand to confirm what items they accept and check if they provide free collection where the closest drop-off location is.

We have listed the most common organisations below:

Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul Society)
Web: Find out more here
Phone: 13 18 12
Address: Find a shop near you here
Collection: some shops do offer collection, please contact your nearest shop to check availability

Salvos Stores (The Salvation Army)
Web: Find out more here
Phone: 13 SALVOS (13 72 58)
Address: Find a shop near you here
Collection: Make a free collection request here

Donation Bins
Web: Find donation bins near you here
Phone: 13 18 12
Address: Find a shop near you here
Collection: some shops do offer collection, please contact your nearest shop to check availability

City and Town Council ‘Tip Shops’
You can check if the deceased person’s council offers a ‘tip shop’ to give unwanted but reusable items to. Contact the local council here:
New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney change State
Find council contact details here
Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State
Find council contact details here
Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State
Find council contact details here

Give Away Online
You could also sell or advertise your unwanted and reusable items for free pick-up on:
  • Facebook;
  • Gumtree;
  • Ebay; and
  • other advertisement sites and notice boards.

16.7.2 Recycling

You can help reduce waste that ends up in landfill and save money by separating recycling from general waste. Contact the deceased person’s local Council to find out:
  • what can be recycled in the yellow-top recycle bin and how much and additional collection would cost;
  • when the next verge-side collection is scheduled for and what items can be placed outside; and
  • if a ‘drop-off site’ is available to take other recyclable waste such as:
  • large amounts of cardboard;
  • old household and garden chemicals/herbicides, paint, batteries;
  • (e-waste) electronic/electrical waste items;
  • wood and metals; and
  • bulky household items.
Other organisations you can contact are:
  • Total Green Recycling for items such as laptops, mobile phones – sensitive e-waste; and
  • EcoActiv for other items such as electronics, solar panels, power tools, batteries, paint and much more.

16.7.3 Disposing

Contact the deceased person’s local Council to find out:
  • if a general waste skip collection may be offered, before paying for a private hire as these may be included in the rates where drop-off sites or full verge-side collections are not available;
  • what unwanted items can be placed in the red-top general waste bin and how much and additional collection would cost; and
  • if a ‘drop-off site’ is available with ‘tip vouchers’ included in the rates notice entitling a certain amount of waste to be disposed of through the drop off site for free.

Complete Step

Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself

If you have decided to tackle this Step yourself after reading and understanding the above, you may want to:

  1. Decide if you will pack and store items to vacate the home or residence as soon as possible
    (see Step 16.1 above);
  2. Put in place home & contents insurance to protect you, the Beneficiaries and the deceased estate from damage, theft or any other insurable events
    (see Step 16.1 above);
  3. Identify and hand-over specific items to the Beneficiaries noted in the Will (if available)
    (see Step 16.2 above);
  4. Determine if Beneficiaries prefer to inherit the remaining household items or prefer these to be sold so the cash proceeds can be distributed when the estate is finalised
    (see Step 16.2 above);
  5. Inform the real estate agent, nursing or care home of the death
    (see Step 16.4 and Step 16.5 above);
  6. Clear the home or residence and Donate, Recycle or Dispose of unwanted household items
    (see Step 16.7 above);
  7. Understand the pros and cons of keeping vacant, renting out or selling the deceased person’s property during the estate administration;
  8. Understand the tax implications before renting or selling the deceased person’s property
    (see Step 16.8 above); and
  9. Update the simplyEstate Assets & Liabilities Inventory to reflect all items and values.

Click for supporting:

Information

Forms

Legislation

New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney change State
Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State
Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State

Cost & Effort

Reading: 20 mins
Completing: 3-10 days
Total: 3-10 days
Cost: $500-$3,000

Effort and cost are general estimates only and are based on the assumption that you complete this step without experienced support.

Instructions

To find out how this Process Guide works, access the instructions here.

Glossary

To find out what the capitalised words mean, access the glossary here.

New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney change State
Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State
Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State

Forms

Sole Tenant in VIC

Bond Claim Form, generated through the RTBA Online tool
Statutory Declaration

Joint Tenant in VIC

Bond Transfer Form or a Bond Claim Form, generated through the RTBA Online tool

Refer to Step 16.4 above for more detail about these forms.
Other forms not listed here may be required based on your specific circumstances.

Checklists & Tools

Use Australia’s smartest Assets & Liabilities Inventory to automatically calculate the estate value for Grant of Probate.
New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney change State
Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State
Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State

Legislation & Rules

Sole Tenant in NSW

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT 2010 (NSW) Section 108 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Joint Tenant in NSW

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT 2010 (NSW) Section 78 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Sole Tenant in VIC

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT 1997 (VIC) Section 91N (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Sole Tenant in QLD

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AND ROOMING ACCOMMODATION ACT 2008 (QLD) Section 277, Paragraphs 7-8 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Joint Tenant in QLD

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AND ROOMING ACCOMMODATION ACT 2008 (QLD) Section 244 (Austl.) (accessed 17/2/2021)

Other legislation and rules not listed here may apply to your specific circumstances.


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