Letters of Administration – What’s the Process When a Loved One Dies Without a Will?

Letters of Administration is a legal document issued by the Supreme Court of NSW when:

  1. A person dies intestate (i.e. without a Will)
  2. Has a Will but none of their nominated executors are alive or able to act as executor

The purpose of Letters of Administration is to appoint an administrator to collect, manage and distribute the deceased’s assets (depending on the size of the estate). It’s an important role and can be quite involved – depending on the complexity of your loved one’s estate.  

Most commonly, Letters of Administration are granted to a spouse or de facto spouse. However, others can apply if they fit specific criteria such as a person who is entitled to all or a share of the estate.

There are 3 steps required when applying for Letters of Administration that your solicitor will undertake with you.

Step 1:  Search for a Will

If you are applying for Letters of Administration because your loved one has died without a Will, you need to demonstrate you have conducted a thorough search. This search should include:

  • Looking through your loved one’s personal papers and belongings
  • Expanding the search to include their home or residence
  • Asking other family members or friends of the deceased if they know if a Will exists and where it may be kept
  • Making enquiries with organisations such as:
    • The family solicitor (past and present)          
    • The NSW Trustee & Guardian
    • The Supreme Court of NSW (as people can deposit their Wills at the Court)
    • Banks where the deceased held accounts

Step 2:  Obtain a death certificate

In NSW, you can apply for a death certificate from the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages or the Funeral Director Will arrange this for you.

Step 3:  Publish a Notice of Intention to apply for a grant of Letters of Administration

At least 14 days before filing for a Summons for Letters of Administration, you must publish a notice of your intention in the NSW Online Registry. The purpose of this step is to allow:

  • People to come forward who may be holding the deceased’s Will or know that a Will exists
  • Creditors of the deceased to make a claim on the estate
  • Others who believe they are entitled to challenge the application for Letters of Administration
  • Any relatives who believe the deceased should have made provision for them in a Will

Once the 14 days has expired, you can file your request for Letters of Administration at the Supreme Court of NSW. Your application will be considered by a registrar. However, the Registrar has the discretion to request further information, as they need to ascertain that the estate will be going to those entitled.

The loss of a loved one is a distressing time and if they die without a Will or without an executor, it can increase your distress. That’s why so many people choose the team at Taylor & Scott. Our compassionate, down-to-earth approach helps to ease the burden and simplify all the legal obligations that are required when someone dies.

If you recently lost a loved one and would like help to manage probate or Letters of Administration, get in touch by calling 1800 600 664 or complete the contact form here.

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