Letters of Administration
What are letters of administration?
When somebody passes away without a will (intestate), the law will determine how the estate is to be distributed, however, before distribution can occur a grant of letters of administration must be obtained from the court.
There are two different types of letters of administration:
- Letters of administration – where the deceased died intestate; and
- Letters of administration with the will annexed – where there is a valid will but there is no executor available to apply for a grant of probate.
Who can apply for letters of administration?
The person who applies for letters of administration is known as an administrator. The most common persons who apply to be an administrator are the surviving spouse or de facto partner. Generally, only somebody who is entitled to all or a share of the estate can apply for administration. This includes adult children, parents, siblings and other family members of the deceased.
How is an estate distributed under letters of administration?
When somebody dies intestate, the estate is distributed according to law.
A sole spouse or defacto spouse is entitled to the full estate of the deceased if the only children of the deceased are children that the deceased and applicant had together. If there are children from another relationship, then those children may be entitled to a share of the estate.
The succession legislation sets out a general order of who is entitled to an estate when somebody dies intestate, which is as follows:
- children (including the children of any predeceasing children)
- brothers and sisters (including the children of any predeceasing brother or sister)
- aunts and uncles (including the children of any predeceasing aunt or uncle)
Each ‘category’ must be exhausted before moving on to the next and once an eligible relative is found, the process stops. If there is more than one entitled person in a category, they will equally share the estate.