Letters of Administration & Grants of Probate in NSW

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  1. What is a Letter of Administration?
  2. When do you need a Letter of Administration?
  3. How to Apply for a Letter of Administration?
  4. Duties and Responsibilities of an Administrator
  5. Complex Cases involving Letters of Administration

What is a Letter of Administration?

A Letter of Administration is a short document issued by a court when someone dies without a will.

When do you need a Letter of Administration?

This document is usually required when someone dies intestate; that is, without a will.  Letters of Administration are issued to confirm that someone has the authority to take responsibility for a deceased estate, including the assets and obligations of the deceased.

How to Apply for a Letter of Administration?

You can apply for a Letter of Administration through the court. The court will only issue Letters of Administration to someone who is entitled to the whole deceased estate, or a share of the estate. A solicitor can be appointed to obtain Letters of Administration on the entitled individual’s behalf if they live outside of Australia.

Duties and Responsibilities of an Administrator

The administrator is authorised to manage and protect the deceased estate according to the laws of intestacy in NSW. The administrator is responsible for collecting and valuing the assets of the estate and discharging the debts of the estate. The administrator must lodge a final tax return for the deceased and establish any discretionary trusts that are dictated by the will. Part of the responsibility to protect the estate includes the obligation to defend the estate from challenges and contests in court.

Complex Cases involving Letters of Administration

If more than one person is entitled to part of the estate, these individuals can apply jointly for Letters of Administration, or one individual can obtain written consent (in an affidavit) from any other entitled people endorsing them to act in the role. If the potential beneficiaries cannot agree on who should act as administrator, they can all petition the court, and the court will rule on the merits of competing claims. Letters of Administration are usually granted to the closest relative of the deceased, which is likely to be a married or de facto spouse of the deceased, or if there is no spouse, a child of the deceased.

Blended families

Blended families create complications within the administration of an estate, especially when there is no will. The intestacy laws in NSW that the administrator is required to follow can often mean that the distribution of the estate can cause unnecessary difficulties or unintended consequences.

Estates with multiple spouses

When an estate has multiple spouses, both the married spouse and the de facto spouse are entitled to equal shares in the estate of the deceased person.

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Frequently asked questions

Yes, the distribution of assets under Letters of Administration can be contested. One of the grounds for contesting a letter of administration is a family provision claims which means that you are an eligible person who was left out of the Will or not adequately provided for.

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to obtain a letter of administration, depending on the complexity of the application.

If no next of kin is willing or able to apply for Letters of Administration, the court may appoint a State Trustee or another suitable person to administrate the estate (including a creditor of the estate).

Need help understanding Letters of Administration in NSW or have more questions? Get in touch today.