What is a Letter of Administration?
A Letter of Administration is a court order that allows you to administer (divide up and hand out) the assets left behind by the person who died without a valid Will.
Letters of administration are important when someone close to you passes away without a valid Will (or with no Will at all) things can get tricky. The court refers to this situation as passing away 'intestate'.
No Will means no executor has been appointed to administer the estate. However, the estate still needs to be sorted. But, for this to happen the court needs to approve the most appropriate administrator with what’s called a 'grant of Letters of Administration'.
Our expert Wills and estates lawyers are here to help you apply for Letters of Administration and manage the distribution of the estate.
If you are in NSW or VIC you can apply online and we will manage the entire application process for you:
- Apply for Letters of Administration in NSW
- Apply for Letters of Administration in VIC
- In another state? Speak to one of our industry leading lawyers today.
Can you apply for Letters of Administration?
Usually, the person who stands to inherit the largest part of the estate needs to apply for a Letter of Administration to be the official administrator. This person is often the closest relative to the person who passed away.
The people who the court usually grants a Letter of Administration to are:
- the husband or wife
- one or more children or other next of kin if there are no children
- a Trustee & Guardian, if there is no appropriate next of kin or they are unwilling to apply for the grant
- any other person the court thinks is fit.
The application process is very similar to seeking a Grant of Probate.
6 steps to apply for your grant of Letters of Administration
First and foremost, remember to have your application ready to file within six months of the person's date of death. Applying after six months means you have to file an additional affidavit of delay. The less paperwork you need to do the better, so get started on this process right away.
Our local team of lawyers can help you power through each and every one of these six steps to help take the pressure off:
- Track down these documents and bits of information:
- the original Death Certificate
- the original Will (if there is one)
- the names, ages and addresses of anyone else who is entitled to a part of the estate.
- Publish a notice on your state's Registry website
This notice is often called a 'Notice of intended application'. You will have to pay a small fee you will need to include, the deceased person’s full name, last address, death certificate and an address where you can receive notices.
You must wait 14 days after you publish this notice before you file your application.
- Download and fill in five key forms:
- the Summons for Administration
- the Grant of Administration
- the Inventory of Property
- the Affidavit of Applicant for Administration
- the Affidavit that the Deceased was not in a De facto Relationship (this form isn’t always applicable)
- the Order and the Parchment (in VIC).
- Get written consent
You need this from anyone else who is entitled to a part of the estate.
- Attach all forms and documents together
- File your application with the court
Once you lodge your application it typically takes up to 10 business days before the court approves it. But you could wait a bit longer if the court asks for more information. If the estate you want to administer is overly complicated you could be waiting a few weeks.
If all of this seems overwhelming speak to one of our lawyers. We can help you apply for a grant of Letter of Administration and take on this burden for you.
What outcomes can you expect?
It’s always helpful to know what you might be in for. When you apply to the court, you can expect one of three responses from them, including:
- Instant approval
If you complete your application correctly, the court will order your application. This means that you will be able to take care of the estate belonging to the deceased person.
- The court asks you for more information
The court might send you a 'requisition letter' if they find a problem with your application. If this happens, you might need to re-file a form or file another affidavit to fix the problem. If you can't give the court what they need they won’t give you the grant of Letter of Administration.
Most importantly, if you do not understand the court's questions or you aren't sure how to respond properly, it’s time to ask for a bit of guidance from a professional.
There is a chance that the court will dismiss your application and deny your request to administer the estate. This can happen if you don’t respond to the questions they send you or forget to ask for more time.
How can your lawyer help with your application?
Like many processes relating to Wills and estates, your lawyer will help give you peace of mind that you are protected. Your local team at Maurice Blackburn are trained and experienced in supporting swift and successful court applications for estate administration.
We will work with you across every step of the Letters of Administration process, including:
- Ensuring the court is satisfied
Your application needs to use the correct form and comply with your state’s relevant laws and legislation.
- Making your application public
We will take care of publishing your notice of your intended application on your state’s Registry website.
- Completing the tricky paperwork
We will help you draft every piece of paperwork the court needs - one of the most tedious parts of this entire process.
- Signing your application
We can be your official witnesses.
- Lodging your application with the court
We will inform you to lodge your application within six months of the date of death and not before the 14 days after you've lodged your intention to apply.
- Making your successful application public
We will publish another notice to announce you being appointed as the official executor of the estate. This step will help to protect you from potential claims made by any of the estate's creditors.
If you need help with any matters relating to Letters of Administration, or to draft a Will, estate or trust, Maurice Blackburn can help.
Contact us today and speak to your local expert Wills & Estates lawyer and find out how we can help you succeed in applying for Letters of Administration and more.
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Andrew SimpsonNational Head of Wills and Estates Law Section, Wills and Estates
"The most rewarding part of my work is helping people obtain access to estate funds in circumstances where they are in financial need, which can be life changing."