What Are Letters Of Administration?
When someone dies without a will (intestate), letters of administration will provide a person with legal authority to administer the estate. The estate may include real estate, bank accounts, superannuation
funds, shares or other investments. Usually, a close family member will make the application, and they will be called the administrator. The document is issued by the Supreme Court of NSW and will allow the administrator to access the deceased person’s estate and personal information. This will enable the person to manage the assets by following intestacy laws, including paying debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. The laws of intestacy define how an estate is distributed in the event of a person’s death, with no will.
You may also need to obtain letters of administration when an appointed executor in a will is not able or willing to fulfil their role.
In cases where there is a will, instead of letters of administration, you will need to obtain a grant of probate to release assets.
How Do You Apply For Letters Of Administration?
When you apply for letters of administration, the first step before submitting applications is to look thoroughly for the deceased’s valid will. The deceased’s personal belongings will need to be searched as well as making enquiries with banks and solicitors in an attempt to locate the will. After a thorough search, you may proceed with the submission if no will has been found.
Before an application is submitted to the Supreme Court of NSW
for letters of administration, you will need to publish a notice of intended application on the NSW online registry.
You will need to set up an account and pay a publishing fee. When publishing your notice, you will need to provide the following information:
- Full name of the deceased person
- Address of the deceased
- Death Certificate
- Current address for notices
Take time when preparing your documents. A lot of paperwork is required, and ensuring that you have all of the necessary forms can help save time with follow-up from the court after document submission. The NSW Department of Communities and Justice provides a step-by-step guide that details all of the forms and documents required when applying for letters of administration.
Depending on the estate’s value, there will be a filing fee to be paid to the court administration.
After 14 days, you can make an application to the Supreme Court for letters of administration. You will need to list everything that the deceased owned and ensure that the assets and liabilities of the deceased have already been calculated. The application will need to include the following documents:
- Death certificate
- Original will (if available)
- Property inventory, including assets and liabilities
- Affidavit from the applicant
- Names and addresses of other persons who are entitled
The court may also request the following documents:
- Marriage certificates of the deceased
- Birth certificate of the deceased
- Divorce certificate (if applicable)
If the court finds your letters of administration application incomplete or inaccurate, you will be issued a requisition letter from the court detailing the problems. You may need to resubmit your form or file another affidavit with more detailed information.
Depending on the court, the processing times for letters of administration can vary. You should allow anywhere between 1 – 4 months.
Letters of administration applications should be made within six months after death. If the application is delayed, the court may require another notice of intended application.
The role of an administrator can be a complex process, depending on the size and details of the estate. Obtaining legal advice from an experienced estate lawyer
can help you effectively manage the process.
What Does Letters Of Administration With The Will Annexed Mean?
When a person dies, and there the deceased left a valid will, but the listed executor cannot fulfil the duties of the role, then another beneficiary may apply for letters of administration with the will annexed.
The circumstances where this may occur include:
- When the will has no executor named
- The executor died
- The executor is unable or unwilling to fulfil the duties
- Living outside of Australia
- If the executor has renounced probate
The administrator must distribute the estate by following the deceased’s wishes as stated in their will, not under the NSW intestacy rules.
What Happens Next?
Once the letters of administration have been granted, the administrator will need to perform their duties, which can include:
Calling in the assets of the deceased estate/transferring assets to protect them.
Settle all debts, including lodging a final tax return and paying any accounts due. Any debts that are outstanding will need to be paid before distributing assets to beneficiaries.
Close all accounts.
To protect the estate from any subsequent claims
from creditors or beneficiaries, you should publish a notice of intended distribution in the newspaper.
Distribute the assets to the relevant family members whilst abiding by the NSW legislation. This includes keeping records of all receipts, expenses and asset transfers.
When Do You Not Need Letters Of Administration?
When a person dies, and there is no valid will, you will need to apply for letters of administration to obtain the court’s permission to release the assets.
You may be able to avoid making a letters of administration application in some instances, such as:
- When the assets are of low value and fall under the financial institution’s low-value threshold, the funds may be released without the need for probate or letters of administration order.
- When most of the assets are jointly owned, “joint tenants”, they will automatically pass onto the surviving party. There will be no requirement to release assets as the other person is legally entitled.
Who Can Apply?
The Supreme court will grant permission to administer an estate only to someone entitled to a share of the assets. In most cases, it will be one of the closest relatives, a spouse or next of kin. This includes a registered de facto relationship or domestic partnership. In some cases, the court may grant letters of administration rights to joint administrators.
When there is only one eligible relative, and they live overseas, the court may allow their lawyer to administer the estate on their client’s behalf.
If there is no next of kin, the court will appoint a trustee or grant administration to another person they feel is capable of managing the estate.
Who Is Entitled To The Estate If There Is No Will?
The intestacy legislation as per the New South Wales Succession Act
governs who is entitled to the estate’s assets. In NSW, a formula calculates who is entitled to the estate, and it will vary depending on family members who are still alive.
If there is a surviving spouse, they will be entitled to the whole deceased estate. When there are only children, the estate will be distributed equally. In cases where there is no spouse or children, then the entire estate will go to the next of kin, the deceased’s parents. If there are no living relatives, including aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, etc., the state government is entitled to the whole estate.
When someone dies without a will (intestate
), letters of administration will provide a person with legal authority to administer the estate. Usually, a close family member will make the application, and they will be called the administrator. The document is issued by the Supreme Court of NSW and will allow the administrator to access the deceased’s assets and personal information. This will enable the person to manage the estate as per the NSW laws of intestacy,
When you apply for letters of administration, the first step before submitting applications is to search thoroughly for the deceased’s will. A notice of intended application will need to be published on the online registry. After 14 days, you can apply to the Supreme Court for letters of administration. Providing the assets and liabilities of the deceased have already been calculated.
The processing times for letters of administration can vary depending on the court, and applicants should allow anywhere between 1 – 4 months.
Letters of administration should be applied for within six months from death.
Obtaining advice from an experienced estate lawyer can help you effectively manage the process.
1. How Do I Get A Letter Of Administration In NSW?
Before any applications for letters of administration are submitted, the first step is to search thoroughly for the deceased’s will. Before an application is submitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for letters of administration, you must publish a notice of intended application on the NSW online registry. After 14 days, you can apply to the Supreme court for the letters of administration, as long as the deceased’s assets and liabilities are calculated.
2. How Long Does It Take To Get Letters Of Administration In NSW?
Before applying for the letters of administration, you will need to publish a notice of intention on the NSW online registry and wait for 14 days.
You need to allow enough time to conduct an extensive search for the deceased’s will and calculate the estate’s assets and liabilities.
The processing times for letters of administration can vary depending on the court
, and applicants should allow anywhere between 1 – 4 months.
3. How Much Does It Cost To Get Letters Of Administration?
The New South Wales online registry charges a publishing fee. In addition, there is a letters of administration filing fee with the Supreme court, which will vary depending on the value of the deceased’s estate. For any estate valued under $100 000, there will be no filing fee charged. For estates over that value, the price can range between $700 – $1950.
Previously an administration bond may have been required, but many estate lawyers can now enable a quicker and more cost-effective application by dispensing with the bond requirement.