What are Letters of Administration?

If you were to die intestate your family or friends would have to apply to the Supreme Court for letters of Administration. The procedure is similar to that for obtaining a grant of probate.

A grant of Letters of Administration allows the administrator(s) to manage and distribute the deceased’s assets. In many cases organisations will not release or transfer the assets of the estate unless Letters of Administration have been obtained.

If the Administrator does not obtain Letters of Administration they do not have the legal authority to deal with assets of the estate and could be held personally liable for intermeddling with the estate assets if a Will is found later, even if the Administrator acted honestly.

The role of the executor and the administrator of an estate is similar as they are responsible for collecting the deceased’s assets, paying any debts and then distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.

Applying for Letters of Administration is not straightforward as part of the process the person applying for Letters of Administration must provide the Court with a list of the deceased’s eligible relatives by supplying those relatives birth, marriage and death certificates; list the searches made for a will or other document that sets out the deceased person’s testamentary intentions; list the assets and liabilities of the deceased.

In most jurisdictions there is a broad legislated order as to who may apply for Letters of Administration. Essentially it follows that a grant of Letters of Administration is given to the person with the greatest entitlement to the estate. Firstly a Spouse of the deceased, next of kin, or both; or someone the Court thinks fit. If the Court cannot find a person with an interest in the estate the Court will appoint the State Trustee.

However a foreign person cannot be granted Letters of Administration.

It is much easier applying for probate so make sure you plan for your future including having a valid Will and make sure you update your Will regularly to save your loved ones the hassle of applying for Letters of Administration.

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