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0800 612 6105

Alternatively local rate:

0203 985 9554

Letters of Administration

What are Letters of Administration?

A letter of administration is a legal document that grants the holder the authority to represent and administer the estate of someone who has passed away. This is a vital document, because it will be requested by virtually every financial institution and formal body that you may have to deal with on behalf of the estate, such as banks, insurance companies, and and companies that hold things like pensions, stocks and shares belonging to the deceased.

If the deceased left property as part of their estate, you will also be asked to provide it to the land registry too. If you need to obtain a letter of administration and would like Probate a Will to take care of this on your behalf, call us now on Freephone 0800 612 6105.

Help with Letters of Administration?

Understandably, many people who are still struggling to cope with the death of a loved one find navigating the whole probate process and even knowing where to get started very daunting. Probate a Will offers a simple fixed-fee service to complete and submit your application for a letters of administration to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service at the probate registry.  We can take care of identifying the relevant probate forms, filling them out and submitting them on your behalf, leaving you free to concentrate on your own needs.

Additionally, the Inland Revenue Service also requires details of whether or not inheritance tax will be payable on the estate itself, and there are different forms involved depending on whether or not this is deemed to be the case. For estates that fall above the inheritance tax threshold, this involves filling in a full tax return, and once this has been processed, the letter of administration is generally granted within a three-week period.

All of this assumes that the case is fairly straightforward without contests of complications; you can then move forwards with the process of administering the estate.

Who can Apply for a Letter of Administration?

The law of intestacy dictates who can apply for the letters of administration in the case of an intestate death, and the personal representative of the estate will be determined in accordance with a strict hierarchy based on the deceased’s closest living kin in the following order:

  • Spouses: A husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased cannot apply for probate.
  • Children: Adult offspring, including adopted children (but not step-children) over the age of eighteen can apply; for children under the age of eighteen, an application can be made in conjunction with a second person of legal age.
  • Parents: The deceased’s mother or father (adoptive or natural) can apply for probate, but step-parents cannot.
  • Brothers and sisters: The brothers and sisters of the deceased, or their adult children if the deceased’s siblings have also passed away, can apply for probate.
  • Half-siblings: Half-siblings can apply under the same remit as that for full siblings, as can their adult children in their absence.
  • Grandparents: Grandparents of the deceased may apply for probate if not pre-deceased.
  • Aunts or Uncles: The deceased’s aunts or uncles (or their adult children if the aunt or uncle has already passed away) can apply too.

Once the full details of the estate in question have been collated, an application for the letter of administration is made. Once this has been successfully granted, the estate can be dissolved and the proceeds distributed on behalf of the person who has passed away.

Intestacy Rules

The Rules of Intestacy (death without a valid will) are statutory, and provide clear guidance to the estate’s administrator on how to divide the estate in accordance with intestacy law.

First of all, a family tree must be drawn up in order to ensure the correct distribution of the deceased’s assets. If any family members are not available, this can cause delays while they are located, or all reasonable steps are made to locate them and inform them of the situation.

Even if a person on the family tree passed away themselves prior to the death of the person whose estate is being administered, they may still retain an interest in the estate after their death if they have children of their own.

Problems with a will

When a loved one passes away without leaving a will, this can cause a wide range of problems and potential complications. The hierarchy listed above determines who is liable to inherit and what proportion of the estate will be granted to them-for example, the deceased’s spouse will inherit all assets up to a total value of £250,000. If the estate is worth more than this, the excess will be divided between the deceased’s children.

While this may all seem fairly clear and straightforward, there are a several potential complications that can arise at this point. For instance, if a couple were cohabiting as common law spouses, this union is not automatically recognised and the bereaved partner may be left un-provided for.

Disputes are much more likely to arise in the case of an intestate death than they are when a will has been left. This is because there is so much more potential for disagreement on what the deceased would have wished for, and any decision made by the estate’s administrator can of course be called into question by members of the deceased’s family.

When no will has been left, no provisions will be in place to mitigate inheritance tax liability on the estate either. Inheritance tax is due on all assets above the nil rate threshold, but in some cases, a Deed of Variation can be created to mitigate the amount of tax due.

This document allows the estate’s administrators to alter the distribution of the estate, usually with a view to lessening the tax burden remaining. However, this document can only be drawn up if all of the beneficiaries of the estate agree upon it.

Help with Probate?

As you can probably tell by now, handling an intestate death can be complicated and challenging, and if you are the estate’s representative, you can be held personally liable for any mistakes; for instance, if the estate is not divided up properly in accordance with the law. The threat of potentially serious repercussions down the line can be hugely daunting at the best of times, and of course, the aftermath of the loss of a loved one can hardly be described as such.

If you want to ensure that the administration of your loved one’s estate goes smoothly and is all handled in full accordance with the law of intestacy, avoiding legal pitfalls along the way and ensuring that all of the beneficiaries receive what they are due, seek professional legal help.

Probate a Will are here for you when you need us, to take care of the complicated and sometimes daunting process of handling intestate death and the distribution of assets, leaving you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything has been done properly, and there will be no nasty surprises further down the line.

If you need to apply for a letter of administration or need professional advice and guidance, call our Freephone probate advice line seven days a week until 10pm on 0800 612 6105.

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