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Are letters of administration necessary?

04 December 2023

Guide Wills Deceased Estate Administration

What are letters of administration?

If someone has died without leaving a valid will, Letters of Administration authorises someone to administer the estate.

 

An application to be appointed administrator needs to be made to the Supreme Court, who will then issue a ‘grant’, which is the piece of paper which authorises the administrator to act on behalf of the estate.

 

The estate includes all the person’s assets and liabilities. Their assets are their property and belongings that have value, such as a house, car, shares and investments. Their liabilities consist of any money they may owe, such as a mortgage or a loan. Letters of Administration will allow the appointed administrator to collect all the the assets and pay the liabilities and distribute the residual estate to the beneficiaries.

Who can apply for letters of administration?

In Victoria, only the person most entitled to receive a benefit from the deceased’s estate (the senior next of kin) or a trustee company like State Trustees can apply for a grant of Letters of Administration.

What if there is no next of kin?

If you run into the problem that there is no next of kin or the next of kin does not want to apply for Letters of Administration to become the administrator, there are other options. Consider approaching State Trustees to make the application for Letters of Administration and to carry out administrator duties upon a grant of Letters of Administration.

How do I apply for letters of administration?

To obtain Letters of Administration, you must take the following steps:

  1. Look for a will – a comprehensive search must be conducted to find a valid will. If a thorough search ends up empty-handed, that is enough to convince the Court no relevant documents exist.
  2. Publish a notice of intention on the Supreme Court website – this must be done before making the application and can be done online, costing around $30.
  3. Complete the application – forms can be found on The Supreme Court of Victoria website. These forms can be tedious and tricky. Consider seeking professional assistance to help you prepare the application.
  4. File the application – 14 days after publishing your notice of intention, you can file an application. This must be done in person at the Probate Office.

What’s the difference between probate and letters of administration?

A grant of Probate is issued by the Supreme Court where the court is satisfied that the will is valid and that the appointed executor is willing and able to administer the estate. A grant of Letters of Administration is generally made where there is no valid will and appoints someone to administer the estate.

What’s next?

Applications usually take about 5-10 business days to process. If applications are completed incorrectly or are missing information, there could be significant delays in obtaining the grant. If there are no problems with your application, Letters of Administration should be granted. Once this happens, the administrator has the legal authority to administer the estate.

Getting help with your will

State Trustees can help you with administering an estate. Our qualified team have decades of experience in estate administration. We can provide unbiased advice and help.

Contact us on 1300 138 672 for a confidential, obligation-free discussion. Find out more about our Executor Services.

Useful resources

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