How to apply for Letters of Administration

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How to apply for Letters of Administration

In cases where someone passes away without leaving a will, letters of administration may be necessary to manage their estate. This involves applying to a court to obtain legal authority to handle the deceased’s property, assets, debts, and tax liabilities. Unlike executors who are appointed by a will, when no will exists, the next of kin may need to apply for letters of administration to gain permission to administer the estate. This process of managing the estate is commonly referred to as “probate.”

Do I need letters of administration?

Letters of Administration may not always be required, especially for very small estates or situations where jointly owned property automatically passes to others upon death, or when the estate consists solely of cash savings or premium bonds. Typically, a small estate is valued at less than five thousand pounds. In such cases, it may be possible to handle matters with banks or other organisations involved without formal probate proceedings. Some institutions may release smaller sums without requiring Letters of Administration, but it’s important to check their specific requirements before proceeding.

However, if the deceased owned property not held jointly with others or if the estate includes savings, investments, or other assets exceeding five thousand pounds, letters of administration will likely be necessary. Before applying for Letters of Administration, the estate must be properly valued, and any potential inheritance tax liabilities should be considered. Generally, a portion of the tax due must be paid before Letters of Administration can be granted.

It is advisable to seek professional advice before proceeding with an application to ensure that it is necessary and that the correct procedures are followed. Valuing an estate and identifying assets accurately can be complex, and receiving proper guidance can save both time and money in the long run.

Who can apply for Letters of Administration?

When it is confirmed that there is no valid will and an application for letters of administration is necessary, there are specific rules governing who can apply. The following individuals, in strict order of priority, may apply for Letters of Administration:

  1. The married partner or civil partner of the deceased.
  2. A child of the deceased (including adopted children but not stepchildren).
  3. A parent of the deceased.
  4. A brother or sister of the deceased.
  5. A grandparent of the deceased.
  6. An uncle or aunt of the deceased.

An application for Letters of Administration can be made by a person who was still married or in a civil partnership with the deceased, even if they were separated at the time of death. However, an application cannot be made by a partner of the deceased if they were not legally married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. If you are unsure about whether you are eligible to apply, it is advisable to seek assistance from a probate practitioner.

How to Apply for Letters of Administration

To obtain Letters of Administration, you must complete a form called PA1A and submit it to the nearest district probate registry along with the death certificate.

You will also need to provide full documentary proof of all assets owned by the deceased, as well as details of any debts owed. This information is necessary for properly valuing the estate and calculating any applicable taxes. Additionally, the correct inheritance tax form must be submitted concurrently.

There is an application fee to pay, which is detailed in the latest fees published by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in a document called the PA3. A small additional fee is also payable for each copy of the Letters of Administration that you require. It is advisable to obtain extra official copies of the Letters of Administration to save time when dealing with multiple institutions, as this avoids the need to wait for the document to be returned before sending it elsewhere.

The application for Letters of Administration can be submitted online or by post. Processing typically takes between 10 and 20 days, but significant delays may occur due to Probate Registries’ workload, which can result in backlogs lasting several weeks.

It is important to ensure that the application is completed correctly, supported by all necessary documents, and accompanied by the correct fee; otherwise, it may be returned. The probate process can be stressful and time-consuming, so it is crucial to seek professional advice at the earliest opportunity if there is any uncertainty about the requirements.

Avatar of DLS Solicitors by DLS Solicitors
8th May 2024
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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