At Will and Estate Lawyers Australia, we help Queenslanders administer estates every day.
In this guide you will learn everything you need to know about the law around Letters of Administration in Qld (“LoA”). If you need information about who can apply, click the applicable scenario below to jump straight there:
- dying without a will: Letters of Administration on Intestacy;
- dying with a Will which does not name an Executor, or the Executor is unable to act (Letters of Administration with the Will annexed);
Speak to an Estate Lawyer today for a free assessment of your circumstances. Our fixed fee service for applications costs $990 + outlays. Ask about our deferred payment solutions to help ease the burden at a difficult time. Call us on 07 3073 2405.
What are Letters of Administration?
A Grant of Letters of Administration is a document conferring official recognition of the right of an Administrator to control and administer the estate and the vesting of property/ assets in that person. It’s issued by the Supreme Court of Queensland and names the Administrator.
Why do you need a grant?
The Grant is evidence of an Administrator’s entitlement to receive estate assets so he or she may distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.
Many asset-holders will not release assets without receiving proof of the Administrator’s right to receive the assets in the form of a Grant of Probate or LoA.
When is it required?
Letters of Administration is usually required if a person dies without a valid Will (intestate) and their estate contains any of these assets:-
- bank accounts with balances exceeding $30,000;
- bonds or shares in publicly listed companies (i.e. ASX listed shares); and
- real property in Queensland valued at more than $300,000 (excluding jointly held property).
Where the estate is modest and does not contain any of the assets listed above, a grant may not be required. Ultimately, this will depend on the policies of the asset-holders you are asking to release funds or title to.
Some of the common (and less common) scenarios where you may need to apply for Letters of Administration include:-
- if an Administrator is appointed, but dies before the administration is complete. In limited circumstances it may be necessary to apply for LoA de bonis non;
- if the grant is only necessary to bring or defend litigation (LoA ad litem);
- if there is a dispute about the validity of a Will an Administrator may be appointed in the interim to collect assets, pay bills and insure property pending the outcome of the litigation. Normally an independent Administrator is appointed (LoA pendente lite);
- if an urgent order is needed to protect assets. For example if the deceased owned a business or entered into a contract which is settling shortly and the settlement date for a contract to buy or sell property approaching (LoA ad colligenda bona).
What is the difference between Letters of Administration and Probate?
Both are documents which authorise the person they are granted to authority to control and administer estates.
The main difference between Letters of Administration and Probate is whether there is a valid Will:-
- If a person has a valid Will, the procedure in Queensland is to apply for probate. The person granted probate is the Executor.
- If a person does intestate (without a will) or leaves a Will which doesn’t name an Executor, the procedure is to apply for LoA. The person receiving the grant is appointed the Administrator.
Many wills prepared using will kits overlook the appointment of an Executor necessitating the an application to the Court for LoA with the Will.
Another difference is that if an Executor passes away before the administration is complete, the administration can be completed by the personal representative of the Executor’s estate. There is no need to apply to the Court again. If an Administrator passes away before the administration is complete, it is necessary to apply for a second time. This is known as an application de bonis non.
Who Can Apply for Letters of Administration on Intestacy?
In Queensland, the Chapter 15 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 stipulates who can apply for LoA.
The laws prioritise those who stand to receive the greatest share according to the intestacy laws. In other words, the Courts consider who will be getting the inheritance, and their share when making the decision.
If a person dies without a valid will in Queensland, the order of priority for Letters of Administration on Intestacy is:-
- the deceased’s surviving spouse (including a de facto);
- the deceased’s child or children;
- the deceased’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren;
- the deceased’s parent or parents;
- the deceased’s brothers and sisters;
- the deceased’s nieces and nephews;
- the deceased’s grandparents;
- the deceased’s uncles and aunts;
- the deceased’s first cousins;
- anyone else the court may appoint.
The order means a spouse (including a de facto) has the highest priority, followed by any child or children and so on.
For a son or daughter to be appointed administrator, they must show the surviving spouse does not have a better entitlement (for example if there is no spouse, the spouse has also passed away or the spouse has renounced their entitlement to apply).
Who can Apply if the Will does’t name an Executor?
In cases where a Will exists, but it does not name an Executor or the Executor is unable or unwilling to act, the order of entitlement to a Grant with the Will is set out in Chapter 15, Part 3 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules:
- a trustee of the residuary estate;
- a life tenant of any part of the residue;
- a remainderman of any part of the residue;
- another residuary beneficiary;
- a person otherwise entitled to all or part of the residue, by full or partial intestacy;
- a specific or pecuniary legatee;
- a creditor or person who has acquired the entire beneficial interest under the will; (h)any one else the court may appoint.
To determine the priority in such cases it is necessary to examine the Will.
If a spouse or relative has passed away with or without a Will, contact us today to arrange a free consultation with an Estate Lawyer to help you understand where you stand and explore inheritance solutions.
Can you contest the appointment of an Administrator?
Yes, sometimes the appointment of an Administrator to receive Letters of Administration is contested because a person believes they are the most suitable applicant.
Even though Queensland laws list the order of priority to be appointed Administrator, the Court may grant it to any person (or the government) irrespective of their priority.
Such contests most frequently occur between Applicants who have equal standing (such as siblings) but who do not agree to act jointly. Contests about who should be appointed Administrator also occur if a person with lower priority seek appointment because they consider the person with higher priority is inappropriate.
For example, a son or daughter may seek appointment over a spouse because they believe the deceased’s spouse lacks capacity (for example if they are elderly) or if they believe the spouse would not fulfill their duties as Administrator if appointed.
If you find yourself in a position where you may need to contest the appointment of an Administrator, schedule a free consultation with a Will & Estate Lawyer today to discuss your legal options and plan a strategy to favourably resolve the dispute.
How to Apply?
Before applying for Letters of Administration in Queensland, you must determine who has priority (discussed above). If two or more people have equal priority, you may wish to consider making a joint application as it is possible to have more than one Administrator. Bear in mind that Administrator must act jointly, so all Administrators must sign every legal document.
- Advertise the Applicant’s intention to apply in the Queensland Law Reporter at least 14 days prior to filing the application.
- Give notice to The Public Trustee at least 7 days prior to filing.
- Prepare documents in their approved form for filing with the Supreme Court of Queensland. These include the Application, Affidavit of the Applicant(s) including evidence of their priority to other applicants, and Affidavit of Publication & Service.
- File the Application and supporting documents at the Supreme Court Registry together with original documents. When you file you must pay the prescribed filing fee.
- The Applicant should be ready for any requisitions made by the Registry and respond promptly.
- Collect the Grant.
How long does it take?
A Grant of Letters of Administration is typically made within 6 – 12 weeks from the date we receive instructions. While we can prepare the initial documents to get the process started within 24 hours, this timeline factors an allowance for meeting the publishing deadlines of the Queensland Law Reporter which only publishes once a week, another two weeks mandatory waiting period before filing and then 4 – 6 weeks for the Court to issue it. Note also that in the case of intestacy, Queensland laws prohibit a grant within 30 days except for exceptional circumstances. The process can take much longer if the Supreme Court issues a requisition notice. By hiring an Estate Lawyer in Brisbane you can avoid unexpected delays by ensuring the application is done right the first time.
How much does it Cost?
At Will & Estate Lawyers Australia, we know there is enough uncertainty at this difficult time. That’s why we offer a fixed fee service for getting the grant.
Let a Brisbane Estates Lawyer attend to all the law work to obtain Letters of Administration for you for a fixed fee of $990*.
Our Premium Service includes
- Assessment of your circumstances including reviewing the Will (if applicable)
- Advice about your priority to apply and evidence required to support your application
- Reviewing the Death Certificate
- Drafting the advertising notice and arranging publication
- Drafting Supreme Court documents including the Application and affidavits
- Filing the Application in the Supreme Court registry
- Attending to any requisitions by the Probate Registrar
- Collecting the original Order
- Making certified copies of the Grant and forwarding the copies and original to you
*Price does not include GST or outlays (e.g. Supreme Court filing fees and mandatory advertising fees).
Free Case Assessment
Contact us today for a free case assessment and fixed-fee quote on 07 3073 2405.