Letters of Administration in Victoria

What are letters of administration?

When a loved one passes away without leaving a valid will, it may be necessary to obtain letters of administration to manage their estate.

A grant of letters of administration appoints an administrator of the deceased’s estate. The administrator has the authority to act as the legal personal representative of the deceased. This may be necessary in order to make legal decisions in respect of the deceased’s estate, such as (amongst other things):

  • terminating lease agreements;
  • terminating utility contracts;
  • closing bank accounts;
  • selling assets;
  • lodging tax returns;
  • paying liabilities; and
  • distributing any residue of the estate.

Grant of letters of administration with the will annexed or without the will annexed?

In circumstances where the deceased has left a valid will but:

  • the executor died before the deceased or before applying for probate;
  • the executor has rejected probate; or
  • the executor is unable or unwilling to act,

a person may apply to the Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration with the will annexed. This means that the administrator appointed by the Court must distribute the estate according to the deceased’s wishes contained in the will.

In circumstances where the deceased has not left a will or the will is not valid, a person who ordinarily would be entitled to the deceased’s estate can apply to the Court for a grant of letters of administration without the will annexed.

Who can apply for a grant of letters of administration?

Usually, the grant of letters of administration will be made to the deceased’s next of kin in the following order of priority:

  • the spouse or domestic partner;
  • biological or adopted children;
  • grandchildren;
  • parents;
  • brothers or sisters;
  • more remote next of kin.

Prior to filing an application for a grant of letters of administration

Before making any application, you must first advertise your intention to apply for a grant of letters of administration on the Supreme Court’s Probate Online Advertising System. Once you have published your advertisement, it remains open for 14 days to give creditors the opportunity to make a claim or other entitled beneficiaries to the estate the opportunity to object to your intended application. At the completion of this 14 day period, provided there are no objections to your advertisement, you may file your application.

Making an application for a grant of letters of administration

In most cases, it is recommended that prospective applicants instruct a solicitor to prepare their application for a grant of letters of administration.

However, for small estates up to $109,350, in respect of which the Court’s decision to grant letters of administration is likely to be non-contentious, the Court may provide assistance to eligible parties to mitigate the need for them to engage a solicitor.

After the application is lodged it generally takes up to 10 business days before the Court decides whether to approve the application. In some circumstances, the Court may request more information or dismiss the application entirely.

Should the application be approved, the successful applicant may commence undertaking its duties in administering the estate.

Where to next?

The Merton Lawyers team is experienced in arranging applications for a grant of letters of administration.

Please feel free to contact our Wills and Estates team on (03) 9645 9500 for an obligation free discussion.

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