What is a Grant of Letters of Administration?

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Home > Blog > What is a Grant of Letters of Administration?

A Grant of Letters of Administration is a document which appoints someone with the responsibility of managing the estate of a deceased person. This document is only issued in cases when the deceased died without leaving a will (officially known as ‘dying intestate’), or without appointing an executor in their will. A Grant of Letters of Administration is also used at times when an executor has been nominated but needs to be replaced due to incapacity or death by an administrator.

A Grant of Letters of Administration will often be requested by financial institutions in order to have the assets of the deceased’s estate released, therefore it is an incredibly important document for an administrator of an estate to possess.

Who is eligible to apply for a Grant of Letters Of Administration?

In Queensland, the Supreme Court rules set out the rules as to who can apply for the Grant and includes in priority potential beneficiaries of an estate under the rules of intestacy. In cases where there are several potential beneficiaries, such as siblings, joint Letters of Administration may be applied for, or one person can apply with the endorsement of the other potential beneficiaries. Competing applications may also be submitted.

It is usually the deceased’s closest relative who will be granted Letters of Administration. In most cases, this will be the deceased’s spouse or their child/ren if the deceased was not married or their spouse is unable to act as an administrator. Failing this, the deceased’s grandchildren, siblings, parents or other family members may be eligible to apply for Letters of Administration.

If an eligible person lives outside of Australia they can appoint a solicitor to act on their behalf to undertake their obligations to administer the estate. The court can appoint the Public Trustee, or another eligible person who it believes will act in the best interests of the estate to administer the estate. The court may also appoint a temporary special administrator to manage the estate if probate has been held up. A special administrator has powers limited to only taking necessary steps to safeguard the assets in the estate if they are at risk of loss or damage.

How do you apply for Letters of Administration?

The first step to applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration is to publish a Notice of Intended Application on the Queensland Registry website. The applicant must then wait 14 days before submitting their application.

To successfully apply for a grant of Letters of Administration the applicant should have:

  • the original death certificate pertaining to the deceased estate
  • the original will (if it exists); and
  • the contact details of others they believe would be beneficiaries of the estate.

Generally, it takes up to six weeks for the court to grant a Letter of Administration but in cases where additional information is required by the court, it may take longer.

What is the difference between an administrator and an executor?

Administrators and executors have largely the same duties but are appointed in different ways. An executor is named in the will of the deceased whereas an administrator is appointed by the court in cases where the deceased did not leave a will, an executor is not appointed or when an executor cannot act. The appointment of an administrator compared to an executor can have vastly different impacts on the way the assets are distributed.

Both administrators and executors have a duty to manage the assets and debts held by the estate, lodge the deceased’s final tax return on their behalf and be prepared to defend the estate in court in cases where potential beneficiaries challenge the will.

If you need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration our experienced wills and estates lawyers can assist you with the process.