What are Letters of Administration?
When a person dies and does not have a valid Will, or their Will does not validly appoint an executor, then an application for Letters of Administration (LOA) to the Supreme Court may be required, in order to administer the assets of the deceased person’s estate and finalise their affairs.
The person who receives the LOA is called an ‘administrator’ (rather than an executor) and, from the time they receive the LOA, they have all the same powers and obligations as an executor appointed in a valid Will.
Benefits of obtaining Letters of Administration
Whether an LOA is required and in what State the LOA should be obtained, depends on the circumstances of the estate. An LOA is usually required by a number of institutions such as banks and share registries before they will release a deceased person’s assets.
Because an administrator only receives authority to administer the estate from the date the LOA has issued, it is important not to delay the process unnecessarily.
Efficient and cost effective applications
At Estate First Lawyers, we can provide you with specialist advice on whether you need Letters of Administration, and help you obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration whether you are in Queensland, New South Wales, or Victoria. At our initial meeting with you, we will provide you with a fixed fee for obtaining Letters of Administration and discuss matters around the administration of the estate. We can also assist you with any other aspects of the estate administration that you might need help with.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a grant of 'Letters of Administration'?
A Grant of Letters of Administration is a document issued by the Supreme Court which provides the Court’s recognition of and authority to the person named in the Grant to administer the estate of a deceased person. They are called an ‘administrator’, which is equivalent to the position of an executor in a Will.
There are many different types of LOA, each required in specific circumstances. The two most common situations are:
- A person dies without a Will - you will need Letters of Administration on Intestacy in order to administer the deceased person’s estate; or
- A person has a Will, but they do not appoint an executor, or the appointed executor/s cannot act (for example if they have all died or do not want to act as executor/s) - you will need to apply for Letters of Administration with the Will annexed.
The administrator then deals with the estate in accordance with the intestacy rules of QLD, NSW or VIC, or in accordance with the Will annexed.
Do I need Letters of Administration?
This will depend on a few factors. If a person died without a Will but does have an estate that needs to be administered, then a Grant of Letters of Administration on Intestacy will usually be required to administer the estate. If there is a Will, then it can largely depend on the assets of the estate and the institutions you need to deal with (that is, whether they will release assets to you without a Grant or not). For the protection of the person who is administering an estate, we would usually recommend a Grant be obtained. You can read more about the risk of acting (here) and estate claims (here).
How do I obtain Letters of Administration?
The process is similar to obtaining a grant of Probate but with some additional requirements, given that there is no Will, or a Will where there is no nominated executor. It also requires an application to court along with supporting documentation and in addition, the law will prescribe who is entitled to apply to be the administrator.
Letters of administration costs will be quoted and provided as a fixed fee during your initial consultation with one of our expert letters of administration lawyers.
Who can apply for Letters of Administration?
The entitlement to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration (LOA) is hierarchical and set by legislation in each State.
For Letters of Administration on Intestacy this generally follows the concept of ‘next of kin’, that is, firstly a spouse, then children, and so on. For situations where there is a Will, it is usually determined by the persons who are receiving the control or largest benefit of the residuary (balance) of the person’s estate.
It is important that the person with the highest entitlement to apply is the person who is applying for Letters of Administration or, if not, you have taken appropriate steps to ‘clear off’ anyone with a higher right to apply.
What happens when someone dies without a Will?
When someone dies without having prepared a Will, they are said to die ‘intestate’, and this creates an ‘intestate estate’.
An intestate estate passes to family members as set by the legislation/laws which are applicable depending on where the person died and also where their assets are held. An intestate estate can get even more complicated where the deceased person has assets in different States and Countries. This is because the laws are different in each State or Country.
An intestate estate is likely to require a grant of Letters of administration and legal assistance is advised to ensure the estate is properly administered.
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