When someone dies without a will - applications for letters of administration

Date: Jan 30, 2012
Document Type: Article

Lucy’s father died some years ago and her mother, Esther died late last year. Lucy has an older sister who lives overseas and a younger brother. After searching Esther’s house high and low and contacting Esther’s lawyers, Lucy was unable to find any will made by her mother. Esther had a house in Petersham, two bank accounts, a superannuation fund, a car and various personal effects. When Esther died she had a modest credit card debt as well as some outstanding utility bills.

Some institutions allowed Lucy to attend to Esther’s affairs in a limited way. However, to deal fully with Esther’s affairs, including her house, Lucy needed to be able to prove that she had authority to do so.

To be given authority Lucy needed to be granted letters of administration. When a person dies and leaves property in New South Wales their spouse, next of kin and/or any person who the Court thinks fit may apply to the Court for letters of administration under Section 63 of the Probate and Administration Act 1898 (NSW).

After doing a search on Google about how to apply for grant of administration Lucy found herself getting confused. She decided to contact a lawyer to help her with the process.

The lawyer advised her that she should begin by obtaining consent from her siblings to her application in order avoid arguments later. Once Lucy had their consent Lucy’s lawyer carried out the following on her behalf:

1.       Published a notice in the Sydney Morning Herald stating Lucy’s intention to apply or administration.  Section 42 of the Probate and Administration Act 1898 (NSW) specifies that this notice must be published at least 14 days before an application is filed.

2.       Filed Lucy’s application in the Supreme Court of New South Wales this involved filing the following documents:

a.       a Summons – a document asking the court to grant Lucy administration.

b.      two copies of a Draft grant – templates of the letters administration including Lucy’s details.

c.       two copies of an inventory of Esther’s assets and liabilities. Lucy worked with her lawyer to prepare this document.

d.      an affidavit setting out the facts which entitle Lucy to apply for administration.

e.      a tear sheet from the Sydney Morning Herald showing the publication of the notice of application

f.        Esther’s original death certificate.

g.       affidavits negativing the existence of a de facto spouse 

h.      the other documents required by the Rules – e.g. a stamped envelope with her lawyer’s address, and a consent to administration signed by Lucy’s siblings.

Lucy had to pay a filing fee when the application was filed and the letters of administration were granted to her two weeks later.

For assistance with applying for letters of administration or any estate matter, contact Dominic Wilson on 02 8268 4000.

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