Letters of Administration for a Deceased Estate - FAQ

Under Wills & Probate law, everything owned by a person who has died is known as their ‘estate’.Usually, the deceased’s estate is distributed to surviving relatives and friends according to instructions in their Will. However, what happens when there is no valid Will in place? An application for Letters of Administration is the best solution. As the local lawyers Ferntree Gully families rely on for expert Wills and Probate advice, Robert Wood and Associates are here to help. Read on to learn about more about using Letters of Administration.

What Are Letters of Administration in Victoria?

For instances where the deceased did not make a Will (called ‘intestacy’), or the Will they made was not valid, Letters of Administration must be obtained from the Supreme Court in order to manage the estate. In most cases, a grant is made to the next of kin (usually the spouse or a child of the deceased). Letters of Administration with the Will annexed are issued when there is a valid Will, but there is no executor by reason of death, incapacity, or unwillingness or because the executor so named has renounced the appointment.

Why Do I Need to Seek a Grant for Letters of Administration?

It is often important to seek a grant for the letters as many asset holders, banks and financial institutions will only release the money or assets of a deceased person when they know they are dealing with someone who has legal authority. In cases where there is a valid Will, this will be a Grant of Probate. In cases without a Will, this will be the Letters of Administration.

Who Can Apply for Letters of Administration?

According to the Supreme Court of Victoria, you can apply for letters of administration without a Will in the following order:

  • Spouse or partner
  • Children (excludes stepchildren but includes adopted children)
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Removed next of kin

In Victoria, you need to publish a notice of an intended application. You must publish this advertisement on the probate online advertisement system at least 14 days before filing your application with the probate office.

How to Apply for Letters of Administration?

You must follow the below steps:

  • Look for a Will – a thorough search must be conducted to find a valid Will. This includes searching the deceased’s personal items, or contacting their solicitor, bank, accountant, or other trusted person. If the search reveals no Will, that is enough to convince the Court no relevant documents exist.
  • Publish a notice of intention on the Supreme Court website – this must be done before making the application and should be advertised for 14 days.
  • Complete the application and lodge it – This must be done in person at the Probate Office.

How Long Does It Take to Obtain Letters of Administration?

Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks for the Supreme Court of Victoria to process an application for letters of administration. This may depend on the workload of the Court, and it may take longer if the Court has additional questions or concerns about the application.

What Is the Difference Between Letters of Administration and Probate?

Probate is an application made by the executor named in the last Will of the deceased. Letters of Administration is an application made by an interested party where there is no Will; that person then becomes the Administrator, and they can administer the estate in the same way an executor would do if there had been a valid Will.

What Happens After You Obtain Letters of Administration?

Following the Grant, the Administrator must ensure that they perform their duties.

This includes:

  • Notifying all entitled beneficiaries of their appointment as Administrator.
  • Paying the deceased’s debts using money left in the estate or by selling their assets.
  • Obtaining a valuation report for any superannuation or insurance benefits payable to the estate.
  • Selling or transferring any property.
  • Distributing assets and money in the estate appropriately.

Want to Know More?

At Robert Wood and Associates, our lawyers have more than 36 years of experience with wills, probate, and all other matters related to estate law. We can assist you in every element of wills and estates, including making decisions about probates or challenging a will. For a professional Will Dispute Lawyer, Melbourne families turn to us. Call us today on (03) 9762 3877 or contact us online.

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