What is Probate & Letters of Administration?
In brief, obtaining a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration is the process of having the Supreme Court officially recognise who the correct person (or persons) is to administer the estate of a deceased person.
An application for probate is made where the deceased left a will. The person who is responsible for having to apply for probate is called the executor. The executor is nominated by the deceased in their will.
Obtaining a grant of probate confirms that:
- the will is the last will of the deceased person
- it is a valid legal document
- the executor named in the will is authorised to administer the estate
- all assets and liabilities of the deceased have been disclosed to the Court.
Letters of Administration
If the deceased died without a will or there is a will but the executor cannot act, or had died, the application is referred to as letters of administration. The person who is entitled to apply for letters of administration is laid out in the relevant legislation and is called the administrator. This person is usually the deceased’s next of kin according to a stated order of priority.
Obtaining a grant of letters of administration confirms that:
- the person who made the application is the legally appointed administrator who is authorised to administer the estate
- all assets and liabilities of the deceased have been disclosed to the Court
- the administrator can distribute the estate to the beneficiaries pursuant to the laws of intestacy.
The grant gives the executor or administrator the necessary legal authority to take control of the estate assets. It must be produced for all dealings with government and financial institutions, companies, share registries and others with an interest in the estate assets.
For some small estates with no real estate, it may be possible for the estate to be administered without a grant. It is up to the institutions holding the assets as to whether they will require a grant.
Applying for probate or letters of administration
Executors and proposed administrators should seek initial advice to find out the extent of their obligations in the circumstances, the requirements for handling the assets of the estate and the legal formalities to be completed.
Applications for grants can have varying levels of complexities and require strict adherence to the rules.
Adelta Legal has been providing specialist estate administration services to executors and administrators for many years. We have been recognised in Doyle’s Guide as one of Adelaide’s leading firms in this field and several of our senior lawyers are individually recognised as leading lawyers in this field.
We choose to work with our clients in a flexible way so that the estate can be administered in the most cost effective manner.
Our charges are based on time spent and do not depend on the value of the assets in the estate. We are also one of the few firms remaining in Adelaide which charge at the rate the Supreme Court recommends (rather than a higher hourly rate). We are always conscious of costs and work with executors and administrators in a collaborative way to ensure an efficient and cost effective administration.
We have offices in the city, at Tea Tree Gully and Morphett Vale for the convenience of clients. In addition, for the elderly or infirm, visits can be made to clients at home or in hospital.
Call us on 08 8415 5000 or send an email to make an appointment.