What Are Letters Of Administration And Do You Need One?

After a person passes away, their estate plan is used to decide how to handle matters such as funeral preparations, financial matters, and the distribution of personal property. Although more than 60% of Australians pass away without an estate plan, leaving these duties to their loved ones or the court. When there is no valid will from the decedent, the first step in managing an estate is to get a letter of administration.

In most cases, you’ll be able to take care of an estate once you’ve been granted Letters of Administration (LOA) and started the probate procedure. With this guide, you’ll learn when and why you might need a Letter of Administration, and it’ll provide you with information on how to obtain one in the future. Read on to find out more about Letters of Administration.

What Are Letters Of Administration?

Letters of Administration is an order from the Supreme Court that gives the executor of an estate the authority to divide the assets of a person who died without leaving a will.

Notably, the next of kin must petition the Supreme Court for authorization to access the estate of an ‘intestate‘ decedent in order to distribute its assets. Obtaining a Letter of Administration gives the recipient the authority to initiate the requested action. Once appointed, the person is granted the title of ‘administrator’ and is responsible for handling the deceased person’s estate.

If the deceased person left a valid will but didn’t name an executor, or if the executor is unwilling or unable to execute their duties, then letters of administration must be obtained. In addition, only those legally entitled to inherit from the estate will be given the LOA.

When Do I Need Letters Of Administration?

Generally, letters of administration are required to handle a decedent’s estate; here are some viable circumstances why you’ll need one:

  • Neither a trustee nor an executor is named in the will.
  • The administrator passed away before the probate was pursued.
  • The administrator has abandoned the probate process.
  • When the appointed executor fails or refuses to carry out their responsibilities

It’s worth noting that when the executor is incapable of fulfilling their duties due to illness, a significant life change, or other circumstances, a replacement may be required. Typically, many probate cases arise because the deceased did not have a professionally drafted will.  Consequently, it has been the court’s responsibility to ensure that the position goes to the most qualified individual.

Who Are Eligible To Submit An Application For Letter Of Administration?

To apply for a Letter of Administration, you’ll need proof of entitlement to a portion of the estate. Most of the time, the person who stands to gain the most of the estate is the one to apply. Often, this is the deceased’s closest relative.

The court commonly issues Letters of Administration to the following individuals:

  • Spouse, fiancé, or de-facto spouse
  • A guardian or trustee may be appointed in the absence of a next of kin or their refusal to apply.
  • Any other individual the court deems suitable.

The court issues letters of Administration, and who receives one depends on the deceased individual’s circumstances.

If A Letter Of Administration Is Granted, What Happens Next?

After receiving a Letter of Administration from the court, the executor or administrator is legally responsible for implementing the terms of the will and distributing the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries designated in the will. Therefore, the administrator will serve as the executor and assume all associated responsibilities, including funeral preparations.

Furthermore, it’s recommended to submit a certified copy of the death certificate to all financial institutions, utility service providers, and municipalities informing them that the individual has died. On receipt of such information, all agencies that have received notifications shall immediately cease deducting payments from the deceased person’s account, such as mortgage payments or direct debits.

The Rundown

Family and friends can still gain access to a deceased’s estate even if they did not leave a will. However, doing so is more complicated and may place more emotional stress on their family and loved ones at an already difficult time.

If a person dies without a legal will, their closest relative must petition the Supreme Court for permission to handle their estate. The procedure of granting permission to act as administrator is called ‘Letters of Administration,’ which is quite similar to the probate procedure.

Typically, an individual can file for Letters of Administration if they are a family member legally entitled to a portion of the estate. Moreover, it would be best to submit the paperwork no later than six months after the deceased’s date of death.

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