Probate Letters of Administration Explained

Katherine Green
Private Client Solicitor

When a person dies, someone needs to deal with their Estate. An Estate is made up of everything they own. If they had made a Will, they should have named an Executor in the Will who would deal with the Estate and apply for a Grant of Probate. But if the person who died did not make a Will, a family member may need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

So in simple terms, a Grant of Letters of Administration may be needed to deal with the Estate of someone who died without making a Will.

There are some important things that you need to be aware of if you are administering the Estate of someone who has died without leaving a Will. We look at the process in more detail below.

For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Probate Solicitors.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

Dying Without a Will

Someone who dies without a making a valid Will is known as ‘dying Intestate’. Because there is no Will giving instructions on how to divide their Estate, inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy are followed instead.

Make sure you check thoroughly to find a Will first before you start any work administering an Estate. Having a Will in place usually means that there is someone already appointed (Executor/s) to complete the administration. That means you won’t need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Speak to friends and family members who may know where the Will was kept. You could also check with any local Solicitors that the person who died used throughout their lifetime as they could be holding a Will. You can also do a search on Certainty, a national Will Register.

If no Will can be found, to have the legal authorisation required to administer an Estate, you may need to apply for Letters of Administration. This really depends on the value of all the Estate assets.

If there are only bank accounts to close that contain small amounts of money, you may be able to deal directly with the financial institutions without the need for a Letter of Administration. You should check with each bank or financial institution as they will each have their own threshold for when Probate is required. But if there is property, land or shares you will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

The role of Administrator is normally dealt with by a family member. Family members will be prioritised by the Rules of Intestacy and will be in this order:

  • A spouse or civil partner
  • A child
  • A grandchild
  • A parent
  • A brother or sister
  • A nephew or niece

How to Apply for Letters of Administration

You will need some information to hand when applying to the Probate Registry (Court) for a Grant of Letters of Administration. You’ll need the deceased persons’ date of death along with an accurate valuation of their Estate so you can calculate if Inheritance Tax is payable.

You’ll need to check which Inheritance Tax (IHT) form to complete and this depends on whether the Estate is being left to a spouse or civil partner or to a charity and the value of the Estate. If you are not sure, see HMRC for help.

Try to have an idea of how much the Estate is worth before you contact HMRC as this will help decide which IHT form is needed and whether Inheritance Tax is even payable.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to complete the Probate application form. This is called form PA1A. Because there was no Will, you are not eligible to complete the application online and you will have to apply by post.

You’ll need to include the completed form, the Probate Registry fee, an official copy of the death certificate and the Inheritance tax forms. Once the Probate Registry has received the information they contact you to attend an interview to swear an Oath. This is a legal document which applies to the Court for Letters of Administration.

Expert Help to Apply for Letters of Administration

You don’t need to do this all yourself. Our experienced Probate Solicitors can complete this process for you and even administer the Estate on your behalf, making sure that the Rules of Intestacy are followed and there are no issues dealing with HM Revenue & Customs.

If you want to talk to one of our experts, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you.

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