Letters of Administration

Defining Terms when Applying for Letters of Administration

six1 Defining Terms when Applying for Letters of AdministrationSurprisingly; approximately two-thirds of Brits die without making a will. In these cases, instead of applying for a grant of probate the next of kin (according to intestacy law) applies for letters of administration. This can be extremely confusing; opening up a whole new vocabulary of legal terminology. If you’ve never experienced this before – it can be very daunting.
 
Here’s a quick guide to some terms you’re likely to come across and what they mean. It’s written in a simple, concise manner and therefore, easy to understand. 
 
Administrator – The person who make the application for Letters of Administration.
 
Caveat - A simple form which can be lodged at any registry office that will prevent anyone from applying for Probate.
 
Deed of Variation – A legal document written after death to redistribute a person’s assets. It is normally used in cases of intestacy to mitigate inheritance tax liability, providing everyone involved agrees.
 
Grant of Letters of Administration – See Letters of Administration.

Intestacy – A case of intestacy or intestate death simply means someone who has passed away without a valid will.
 
Intestacy Law – The law that governs what happens to a person’s estate if they did not make a will. See also Rules of Intestacy.
 
Letters of Administration – are applied for in cases of intestacy. This is essentially the same as the executor of a will applying for Probate. The ‘letters’ are simply a legal document which give the deceased’s representative the legal authority to handle the deceased affairs. This is necessary when dealing with financial institutions for access to monies, shares and to sell property.
 
Partial Intestacy – is when there is a will but it does not fully dispose of the deceased's assets.

Personal Representative – The PR is the person dealing with the estate of the deceased person.

Probate Registry – A Division of the High Court permitted to give a person legal authority to deal with the assets of a deceased person.

Rules of Intestacy - determine who can apply for probate to deal with the deceased’s affairs and how the estate will be distributed. This is based on next of kin or closest blood relatives; you can find full details by clicking on the link to our intestacy chart.
 
You can bookmark the page for quick reference to use later on. If you need any more help, you can also call our free-phone number 0800 612 6105 – you can speak to a friendly, knowledgeable advisor right up until 10pm, 7 days a week.

Letters of Administration and Legal Costs

If a loved one has died intestate, you may be concerned about the legal costs of applying for letters of administration and dealing with their estate. The legal costs should not differ much from the legal costs for probate, which is what you would need to apply for if the deceased had made a will.
 
But costs will usually depend on how complicated your loved ones financial affairs are, and whether you deal with them yourself.
 
The basic application for letters of administration to deal with the deceased’s estate costs exactly the same as an application for probate. The actual application costs £105 and you will also need to pay £1 for a document to give to each financial institution where your loved one held their assets.
 
If you appoint a solicitor, or legal expert to deal with the administration of the estate, there will obviously be additional costs, and they could add up to more than they would have if a will had been made.
 
For example, many solicitors charge by the hour, or per letter or telephone call. And hourly fees can be as much as £350. If a will had been made, leaving the estate to only one or two people, costs would be lower than if the deceased died intestate and the proceeds need to be divided between several people. This is because the solicitor will need to communicate with more people, and whether they are charging by the hour, or £100 per letter, these fees can soon mount up.
 
Also, if a family member appeals to the courts, because they believe that they should have received a larger portion of the estate, legal fees can escalate rapidly.
 
At a time when you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the additional stress can be overwhelming. Funeral expenses are costly enough without having to worry about potentially massive legal fees and family disputes.
 
If a family member is likely to appeal or the deceased’s finances are quite complicated, you may want to hand over the responsibility of dealing with the estate to a legal expert. But if the prospect of a huge legal bill is worrying you, there are also other options.
 
Instead of appointing a solicitor, many people opt to use a fixed fee probate service instead. For a pre-agreed total fee, they can deal with the application for letters of administration, and administer the estate on your behalf. This takes the pressure of you at your time of loss, and it also removes the worry of potentially huge legal fees.
 

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.

Responsibilities When You Are Granted Letters of Administration

When a loved one dies intestate, you will need to apply for letters of administration to gain access to the deceased’s bank accounts and other assets. The application is straightforward enough. However, the responsibilities that come with dealing with a loved ones estate may not be so straightforward, especially when you are still grieving. Only you can decide whether you would be able to cope with doing it all yourself.
 
Once you are granted letters of administration, you will need to find all the assets belonging to the estate. You will also need to pay off any debts owed by the deceased and discover whether they have any debts owing to them. You will then need to chase those debts up.
 
Next you will need to find out who is entitled to the deceased’s assets, by checking the rules of intestacy. This alone can be difficult because even though the rules of intestacy are set out by law, some family members may feel that they have not been sufficiently provided for. They may have the right to appeal and this can cause stress and conflict, if you have to deal with it all yourself.
 
Dealing with a relative’s affairs when they have died intestate is far more complicated than if they have left a will. It really is a huge burden, and in some cases it can drag on for years. Then when you have finally dealt with everything, you will need to calculate inheritance tax owing, and deal with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, before you distribute the deceased’s assets.
 
All this can be far too much for most people to cope with and if you are not confident that you can cope with it, it would be wise to seek legal assistance, before you apply for letters of administration. But if you are worried about the expense of having a solicitor deal with the estate, it may be worth seeking advice and assistance from a probate specialist such as IWC; who offer fixed fee probate services. That way, you will know the exact fees upfront and you won’t have to worry about running up massive hourly charges.
 
If you are still not sure whether you want to deal with your loved ones estate, it is worth finding out how complicated your case might be. IWC Probate Specialists will be happy to give you free advice. You will then be able to decide whether you want to apply for letters of administration yourself, and handle your loved ones financial affairs.  Call now on 0800 612 6105.

Do You Need to Apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

six Do You Need to Apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?If a close relative has died intestate, meaning that they did not make a will, you may need to apply for a grant of letters of administration. This will enable you to gain access to your deceased relative’s assets, so that you can deal with their estate.

In certain circumstances, letters of administration are not necessary. If your relative left assets of under £5000 after the funeral fees were paid, you may not need to apply for a grant. Or if the only assets are shared property, or money in joint bank accounts it may not be required.

Relatives entitled to apply for a grant of letters of administration include the spouse of the deceased, their parents, or their children, and they must send the application to the probate registry. This can be a daunting experience; in addition to grieving the death of a loved one, you will need to deal with the complications that dying without a will can cause. 

When someone dies intestate, it is often far more difficult to deal with the distribution of their estate. Some situations complicate the procedure even further. For example, if children under the age of 18 are entitled to benefit from the inheritance, more than one person must apply.  

Tax can cause additional complications when someone dies intestate, there could be a hefty bill to pay, without any plan in place to lessen liability.  It is possible to alter intestacy to mitigate tax, provided that everyone affected agrees.  As inheritance tax can be complicated and confusing, it is advisable to instruct a legal practitioner to work on your behalf.  They can apply for a grant of letters of administration and help you to deal with the distribution of the estate.

If the assets of your deceased relative have a large financial value, the laws of intestacy set particular rules on how you must distribute the assets. For example, if a spouse dies intestate and the inheritance exceeds a certain sum, other close relatives may be entitled to a portion of the deceased’s estate.

It may be possible to appeal against the way the assets are to be distributed.  For example, you may be a close relative of the deceased and you do not believe that you are getting your fair share of the estate. Also, if you are a common law partner, that was financially reliant on the deceased, you may be entitled to appeal.

Appeals can be complicated and you must make an application within 6 months. If you intend to appeal, it would be wise to seek advice from a legal practitioner before the letters of administration are issued.

What are Letters of Administration?

As executor of a will, it is your responsibility, if it is deemed that the Estate in question is valued at more than just a few thousand pounds (usually over £5000), to apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, as part of the probate process.

This means that if the person died having prepared a Will, you must apply to the Probate Office for a Grant of Probate in order to begin the probate process.  If no will had been made, this then changes from an application for a Grant of Probate to an application for Letters of Administration.

These documents are legally required before you will be able to deal with any financial matters, such as closing bank accounts or cancelling trust holdings and pensions.  This of course also means that you will be unable to receive any money from the Estate until you have these documents in place.  Bear in mind that you are likely to be charged a fee for receiving either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

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