What Is A Grant Of Letters Of Administration?

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 5th July 2024
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When someone dies without leaving a valid will, getting a Grant of Letters of Administration is a key step to allowing an administrator to manage and distribute the deceased's assets following the law.

In this article, we'll look at what a Grant of Letters of Administration is, when it is needed, and the steps involved in getting it.

We will also cover the responsibilities of an administrator and provide practical advice for getting through this process at such a difficult time.

Table of Contents

What is a Grant of Letters of Administration?

A Grant of Letters of Administration is a legal document issued by the Probate Registry that allows someone to manage and distribute the estate of a person who has died without leaving a valid will.

This document is important as it gives the administrator the legal authority to handle the deceased's assets, pay any debts, and distribute what remains to their rightful heirs as per intestacy laws.

What is the difference between a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration?

Grant of Probate is issued when there is a valid will and confirms the authority of executors to act according to the will.

Grant of Letters of Administration is issued when there is no valid will and confirms the authority of administrators (usually the closest living relative) to act according to intestacy laws.

When do I need a Grant of Letters of Administration?

When someone dies without a will, their estate needs to be managed and distributed following specific rules. However, there's no clear instruction on who is responsible for handling these affairs.

The Grant of Letters of Administration solves this by officially naming someone to take charge of the estate. This person is known as the administrator.

When don't I need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

You may not need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration if:

Each situation depends on the specific circumstances and the financial institutions involved.

Many banks and financial institutions may release funds without requiring a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Who can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

Usually, the closest living relative of the deceased can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This typically includes:

  • Spouse or civil partner

  • Children

  • Parents

  • Siblings.

If none of these relatives are available, other family members or close friends may apply, or a solicitor can step in to help.

Can the decision regarding who is granted Letters of Administration be contested?

If there is a disagreement about who should administer the estate, interested parties can raise objections and potentially challenge the appointment.

For example, if someone who is not the next of kin applies or is granted administration, an eligible person can contest this decision.

Alternatively, if the appointed administrator is deemed unsuitable due to financial mismanagement, conflict of interest, or criminal history, interested parties can challenge their suitability as administrator.

The first step in this process involves lodging a caveat with the Probate Registry, which prevents the grant of administration from being issued until the dispute is resolved. This remains in place for six months initially but can be renewed.

If the matter proceeds to court, the court may reassign the administrator to another suitable person or appoint an independent administrator, such as a solicitor or professional executor.

What documents do I need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

Before you apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, you'll need:

  • The death certificate;

  • Form PA1A;

  • Estate valuation documents including bank statements, property valuations, details of investments, debts, etc;

  • The relevant inheritance tax forms;

  • Proof of your identity, like a passport or driving license;

  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate if you are the spouse or civil partner of the deceased;

  • Documents related to the deceased's will if it is invalid or partially valid.

How do I apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

To apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration you need to:

  1. Collect the death certificate, details about the deceased's assets and debts, and proof of your relationship with them;

  2. Complete the application forms, which you can find online or get from the Probate Registry office;

  3. Pay the application fee, which varies depending on the estate's value;

  4. Send in your completed forms and fee payment online or by post.

What are the responsibilities of an administrator?

The administrator is responsible for:

  • Determining the total worth of all the deceased person's assets and liabilities;

  • Paying off any debts and taxes using the estate's funds;

  • Sharing remaining assets to the rightful heirs according to the law.

All in all, an administrator's role is much the same as the duties of an executor.

The only difference is that the deceased did not appoint an administrator to the role because they didn't leave a will.

Do you need a solicitor for Letters of Administration?

You do not legally need a solicitor to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. For example, you might not need a solicitor if the estate is straightforward, with clear beneficiaries and no significant legal or tax complications.

That being said, you might want a specialist wills, trust, and probate solicitor to support you if the estate is large or includes various assets, or if there are disputes among beneficiaries.

What fees are involved in getting a Grant of Letters of Administration?

The application fee for a Grant of Letters of Administration is £273 if the estate's value is over £5,000. There is no fee if the estate is valued at £5,000 or less.

Other fees you may encounter include:

  • Fees for additional sealed copies of the Grant of Letters of Administration;

  • Solicitor fees if you choose to hire one to help with the application;

  • Fees for professional valuations of property, valuables, or investments;

  • Inheritance tax fees.

Can I sell the deceased's property before obtaining the Grant of Letters of Administration?

You can't sell the deceased's property before obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration as, without it, you do not have the legal right to do so.

Until the grant is issued, all assets including property are frozen and the title of the property can't be legally transferred to a new owner.

What should I do if I can't find all the necessary documents?

If you can't find all the necessary documents to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration and you have exhausted all avenues such as contacting relevant authorities to get them, you should explain this in your application, giving as much information as possible.

Is there a time limit for applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

There is no strict legal time limit for applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration after someone has died, but it is a good idea to apply as soon as possible.

Without the grant, you can't legally manage or distribute the deceased's assets which can cause issues with paying bills, managing properties, or accessing funds necessary for ongoing expenses.

It's also important to note that inheritance tax is typically due within six months of the person's death, and interest can be added to any unpaid tax after this deadline.

What happens if I make a mistake on the application?

Making a mistake on your application for a Grant of Letters of Administration can cause delays, but it's usually fixable.

Minor mistakes can often be corrected by contacting the Probate Registry directly.

For more significant errors, you might need to submit a formal correction.

Whatever the mistake, you should get in touch with the Probate Registry as soon as you know about it and ask for their advice on how to correct it.

How long does it take to get a Grant of Letters of Administration?

On average, it takes about 8 to 12 weeks to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration after applying.

That being said, this timeline can vary based on the completeness of the application, the estate itself, and whether there are any disputes or complications.

Get help with Grant of Letters of Administration from Lawhive

When someone dies without leaving a valid will, getting a Grant of Letters of Administration allows someone to legally manage and distribute the deceased's assets according to the rules of intestacy.

Without a Grant of Letters of Administration, it may not be possible to do any of this, especially selling or transferring ownership of property.

In this article, we've covered what a Grant of Letters of Administration is, when it is needed, and the steps involved in obtaining it. We also discussed the responsibilities of an administrator and how long the process usually takes.

Whether you are dealing with a simple estate or a more complex one, understanding the above can help you move through the process efficiently as you grieve, with as little stress as possible.

If you need personalised advice and assistance with obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration, contact us today. Our network of experienced solicitors is here to guide you through the process efficiently and with compassion.

Furthermore, in engaging with a lawyer through Lawhive, you benefit from our unique advantages:

  • Up to 60% cheaper than high-street firms;

  • Fixed price quotes with no hidden fees;

  • Fully regulated and vetted solicitors;

  • Fast case assignment and online responses.

Let us help you manage and distribute your loved one's estate with the care and expertise you need.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation and no-obligation quote for the services of a specialist lawyer.

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