How do letters of administration work?

Date: Jan 14, 2015

Individuals will sometimes need to apply for letters of administration when it comes to handling a deceased estate. By being granted these letters, a person is allowed to manage the distribution of an estate in place of an executor.

Applying for letters of administration is a complicated process however, and the Supreme Court of NSW recommends individuals beginning this process seek the advice of a wills and estates lawyer.

When seeking letters of administration, one of the first considerations will involve whether or not the deceased had a will in place, or whether they passed away intestate. Letters of administration will only be granted in a case of intestacy.

In the event that a valid will is present, the executor will instead apply for probate - which involves an application made by the executor to distribute the will according to the wishes laid out in the deceased's will.

If there is an informal will or another document that might be interpreted as the deceased's last will and testament, the courts can order that this serves as the basis for distributing the estate. In this situation, the informal document will be annexed to the letters of administration.

In a case of intestacy, the largest benefactor will usually apply for these letters and then be responsible for distributing the estate. However, it is advisable for anyone seeking letters of administration to also attempt to contact other potential beneficiaries and inform them of their intentions.

Those applying for letters of administration will also be required to publish a notice of their intention to do so two weeks before filing the application.

The Succession Act 2006 (NSW) lays out the process for distributing the will of a person who has passed away intestate, with spouses, children and parents all eligible. Individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased can also apply for letters of administration, provided they can demonstrate their eligibility.

In situations where there are no other eligible beneficiaries, it is possible for creditors of the deceased to apply for letters of administration to settle any debts that a person incurred over their lifetime.

If you would like more information on being granted letters of administration, or simply more information on how an estate is distributed in a case intestacy, make sure you contact a wills and estates lawyer. They will be able to provide you with information that is specifically tailored to your personal situation.