When a person dies without leaving a valid Will they are said to have died ‘intestate’.
If a person dies intestate then their assets will be divided according to a fixed legal formula which varies between each of the States and Territories.
As there is no Will to confer authority on a person to administer the estate, until an application is made to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration the deceased person’s estate cannot be properly administered.
What are Letters of Administration?
‘Letters of Administration’ are an order granted by the Supreme Court which gives a person the legal right to deal with the estate of a deceased person where the deceased person died without leaving a valid Will.
Without a valid Will naming an executor, someone (typically a major beneficiary) must apply to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
If the application is approved, the applicant will be appointed as the ‘Administrator’ of the estate and will be authorised to administer the estate and distribute the deceased’s assets according to the relevant intestacy formula.
If there is no family member willing or able to act as the administrator of the estate, the court may appoint a public trustee, who will charge a professional fee for acting in the role.
Do I need a Grant?
Letters of Administration must be applied for whenever someone dies intestate leaving behind an estate that is valued over a certain amount, or that contains ‘real property’, such as a house or an apartment.
In making an application to the Supreme Court you must:
- Advertise the application in a local newspaper
- Lodge a formal application with the Court including an affidavit (a sworn statement) containing:
- Proof that you have advertised the application;
- Details about any known testamentary documents;
- Details about the deceased;
- Evidence of the relationship for those entitled to receive on intestacy;
- Evidence that beneficiairies have consented or are aware of your application;
- A search of the Registry records to indicate a previous Grant has not been made; and
- A death certificate.
Depending on the exact certainty and complexity of the estate further documentation may be required.
The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult time. It is already hard enough without the added stresses of legal process. Tetlow Legal is familiar with the intricacies of applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration and is well-equipped to handle the process in a sensitive and professional manner.