Losing a loved one often leaves us in a traumatic and stressful situation. And the pressure of dealing with the situation multiplies when a person dies without leaving a will. Even when they die without an Estate Plan, their assets still need to be managed and distributed in compliance with state laws, and this is when you need to start by applying for Letter of Administration.

A letter of administration  is a type of grant issued by the Court to an administrator of an estate. It is not to be confused with probate or succession certificate, though the terms are often used interchangeably. Probate is a copy of the will certified by the Court seal and can only be applied for by the executor nominated in the will. A Succession Certificate enables the holder to collect movable assets belonging to an estate, such as debts or securities.In contrast, a letter of administration  grants someone (such as a spouse or relative) the right to administer the estate of a deceased person who did not have a Will.

Before moving on to the steps involved in applying for letters of administration, Let’s understand the meaning of LOA, the circumstances under which it is granted, and to whom it can be granted.

Letter of Administration: What it is and How to Get One

A letter of administration  is a letter that gives the beneficiary the right to administer the deceased’s estate. The beneficiary gets the same administrative rights as an executor would get through this letter. In case a person dies intestate (without writing his will or without nominating an executor), an administrator is appointed by the Court to administer the estate.

When can you issue a Letter of Administration?

The request for applying the letter of administration can be made under the following situations –

  • When the person who died has not left any Will.
  • No executor to the estate has been appointed
  • When the appointed executor is legally incapable.
  • In cases where the executorship is not accepted within the prescribed time limit.
  • If the executor passes away before the administration of the estate.

Who is eligible to apply for LOA?

Letters of Administration are usually issued to a close relative of the dead, generally a spouse or a child. An extended family member can apply only if the above mention does not exist. A person living outside Australia cannot be granted Letters of Administration.

When can LOA be applied?

Within 6 months from the date of death, a Grant of Administration must be applied for. If it is filed any later, a suitable clarification must be presented to the Court reasoning the delay. That can be done by either including the cause in the administrator’s affidavit or filing an independent affidavit of delay.

Steps involved in applying for a Letter of Administration

 Let’s discuss the various steps involved in applying for letters of administration in detail –

Search for a will

  • The deceased must not have left a Will or other document that sets out their intention for their estate upon death.
  • It will be necessary to search their home or residence for any such documents and  make inquiries with the NSW Trustee & Guardian and the Supreme Court of NSW. Any banks of the deceased and any lawyers they may have had dealings with should also be contacted to determine whether they have a copy of a Will.

Obtain all necessary documents & information

Before filing for the Letter of Administration, the executors will be required to conduct a detailed investigation into the assets and liabilities of the deceased’s estate. This can generally be done by getting information from the deceased’s banks, possible creditors, asset holders, etc.

Publish a notice of intended application for Letters of Administration through the Court

Publish a notice of your intent to apply for Letters of Administration. This notice shall be published through the Court’s Online Registry at least 14 days prior to filing your application.

Prepare all the necessary documentation for filing with the Court

Below is the list of documents that are required to be submitted with your application –

  • Original Death Certificate – The Court must be presented with the original death certificate.
  • Summons of Death – The information contained in the summons includes the full name of the deceased, their date of death, residential address, the value of their estate, and the capacity in which you are applying to be appointed administrator.
  • Grant of Administration – The grant outlines who is applying for administration and lays out any restrictions or limitations on that grant.
  • Inventory of property –  All the property solely owned by the deceased or in partnership with someone must be disclosed in this form, along with the estimated value.
  • Affidavit of applicant for administration – Herein, you need to clarify that the deceased has not left a will behind, the procedure of how you searched for it and the no. of people authorized to share the estate, etc.

Acquire consent from other entitled people

If the decedent has any heirs entitled to a portion of the estate, have each sign a consent form allowing you to serve as administrator.

Submit your application and supporting documents

The application and  the supporting documents must be filed at the Supreme Court of NSW Registry, in person or by post.There is a nominal fee that needs to be paid.

Processing of Application

After submission, one might wonder how long does probate take in NSW?  An official registrar will evaluate the submitted application and  the timeline for processing is approximately five business days. If any information is missing or required, the registrar will contact you with details.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the administration of an estate is challenging at a time when grieving and financial responsibility should be your top priorities. And with so many steps involved in applying for letters of administration, it can be quite stressful.  A trusted Letters of Administration service can help you avoid pitfalls and minimize your time requirements  in what is likely a time-consuming process. For more information on the service and a complete list of examples, read more at the ProbateConsultants website.