Intestacy and Letters of Administration

If a loved one has died without making a will, you may have been told that you will need to apply for letters of administration, to enable you to administer the deceased’s estate. All this can be overwhelming, when you have just lost a close family member, but it doesn’t need to be as complicated as it sounds.
 
What are Letters of Administration and Why Do You Need Them?
 
Letters of administration are documents that you need to give to the financial institutions that hold the deceased’s assets, to prove that you are entitled to deal with their estate and access their finances.
 
If the deceased has assets of over £5000 and you don’t hold joint accounts with the deceased, you will need to apply for letters of administration, before you can access their finances. But the initial application is not as complicated as it sounds.
 
You will need to fill out probate form PA1 and send it off with a cheque of £105. You will also need to pay and additional £1 per copy of the letter to send to each institution.
 
Does the Process Differ From Dealing With an Estate Where a Will Has Been Made?
 
The initial application is not a great deal different whether a will has been made or not. If a will was left, the executor would apply for probate, to gain access to the deceased’s finances, instead of letters of administration.
 
When no will has been left there is no executor, so the law decides who will deal with the finances of the deceased. This depends on what relatives survive the deceased, and the law ranks them in the following order:
  1. Husband or wife; but not a common law partner.
  2. Children.
  3. Grandchildren.
  4. Parents.
  5. Brothers and sisters.
  6. Grandparents.
  7. Uncles and aunts – but not their spouses.
The other major difference is, because a will has not been made the law has clear guidelines on how the estate should be distributed and this can cause complications. For example, if your loved one had a common law partner, he/she may appeal. Also other relatives may appeal, if they feel they are entitled to more of the estate than the law allows.
 
Another major difference is inheritance tax. Inheritance tax allowances are not as generous, when someone dies intestate.
 
If you feel that your loved ones estate may be too complicated to deal with. Or you don’t want the additional pressure, during your time of grief, you are entitled to appoint a probate service to apply for letters of administration and deal with the deceased’s estate on your behalf.

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