If someone dies without a will (known as dying ‘intestate’), the next of kin will need to get approval from the Supreme Court to access and distribute the deceased estate. ‘Letters of Administration’ (LOA) is the court order which gives someone the authority to start that process. Once approved, the individual becomes known as the ‘Administrator’ and they are given the responsibility of managing the deceased estate.
Letters of Administration are also required if someone died with a valid will but they did not name an executor, or the executor is unwilling or unable to act. LOA will only be granted to someone who is entitled to a share of the estate.
If there is no valid will you will need to apply for a Letters of Administration. An application should be lodged with the Supreme Court by the next of kin, or another eligible relative. Most states have a deadline for when this needs to be completed, typically within six months from the date of the person’s death. If the application is lodged after that time frame it will still be considered, but extra paperwork may be required.
The process for obtaining a LOA follows the same format in each state and territory:
Identify who should lodge the application
This must be someone who is eligible to receive a share of the estate. It could be a spouse, child or other family member.
Create an inventory of the deceased estate
A formal document should be drawn up to detail the complete inventory of the deceased estate. It must include all assets and liabilities wholly or partly owned by the deceased such as cash held in bank accounts, properties, cars, jewellery, antiques, artwork etc.
Obtain a death certificate
If a funeral has already been held the funeral director may have submitted the forms to register the death already. Otherwise an application will need to be lodged with the registry of births, deaths and marriages.
Lodge a Notice of Intention
It is a legal requirement to notify any potential Beneficiaries about your intentions to administer the estate. A notice of Intention needs to be published on the relevant state or territory registry ahead of lodging the formal application for a LOA. This gives family or friends an opportunity to get in contact before the process begins.
Complete the application forms
An application can be lodged 14 days from the date the notice of intention was published. Each state and territory will have a specific set of forms to fill out. All documents can be submitted to the Supreme Court registry in person or via post.
There is no universal fee for filing for Letters of Administration. Fees and charges will vary depending on the state and territory you reside in and the gross value of the estate. Administrative tasks like obtaining a death certificate and lodging a notice of intention usually incur small fees, around $50 - $100.
But the cost of filing the official application will vary based on how much the estate is worth. In some states, there will be no fee if the estate is less than $100,000. Fees then rise incrementally for estates valued over this amount. You can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $5,000 for the formal application.
Each state and territory will have a set of specific forms you need to fill out to lodge an application. In addition to these forms, you will need to prepare personal documents relating to the deceased and any beneficiaries. The court is unlikely to return these documents so it is wise to make copies of any originals before you submit the application.
The paperwork required includes:
The original death certificate;
The names, ages and addresses of eligible beneficiaries;
The inventory of property;
The Summons for Administration form;
The Grant of Administration form;
A signed affidavit by the applicant;
A signed affidavit that the Deceased was not in a De facto Relationship (if applicable);
Consent to Administration.
Probate is the court order required to get permission to access a deceased estate if there was a valid will. Letters of Administration is virtually the same process, but it is required if there was no will in place.
To obtain Letters of Administration you need to apply to the Supreme Court in your corresponding state or territory. Each state has a specific set of forms and documents which need to be filled out. To access the details click through to the links below.
Even if you don’t have a will when you die it is possible for your family and friends to access your estate. But the process is more complicated and can add an unnecessary strain on your loved ones during the grieving process.
When you die intestate an eligible family member must get approval from the Supreme Court to manage your deceased estate. This approval process is known as ‘Letters of Administration’ and is similar to the process of probate.
Any eligible family member who is entitled to a share of the estate can apply for a Letters of Administration. The application should be lodged within six months of the date of death or it can become more difficult to get approved.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this guide is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice but as a basic guide to the application process. If you have concerns or queries you should consult a legal professional about your specific circumstances.