If your loved one or close relative has passed away in NSW without leaving a will, you may find yourself needing to get up to speed on Letters of Administration – what they are, what they do, and how to get them.
Letters of Administration is a document provided by the Supreme Court of NSW which is often required to collect and distribute the assets or property of a person who did not leave a will outlining what they would like done with their estate.
This guide will take you through the things you need to know about getting a grant of Letters of Administration in NSW, including:
- Intestacy and inheritance – working out who is entitled to a deceased’s estate when they didn’t leave a will
- Who can apply for Letters of Administration in NSW
- When and how to apply for Letters of Administration in NSW
- Costs and fees of Letters of Administration NSW
- Using a lawyer to apply for Letters of Administration NSW
As discussed in our guide to What are Letters of Administration?, a grant of Letters of Administration is the means by which the court grants authority to the administrator to deal with the estate of a person who has passed away without a will. Dealing with the estate can include collecting and distributing assets, and settling the deceased’s debts.
For more information about the administrator, see below.
Intestacy and Inheritance: Who is Entitled to the Deceased’s Estate?
Under NSW legislation (specifically, the Succession Act 2006 (NSW)), there is an ‘order’ of relatives of the deceased who are entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate.
This order can be summarised as follows:
- Spouse(s) only. This includes a married person or a domestic partner, being someone who has been in a de facto relationship with the deceased for a continuous period of 2 years; or has been in a de facto relationship with the deceased which resulted in the birth of a child.
- Spouse(s) and children. This category applies where the deceased has children who are not the children of the spouse(s).
- Children. Where a deceased’s children are alive, they are the eligible relatives in this category. However, if a deceased’s child has passed away, this category extends to the subsequent generations of the deceased’s lineal descendants – for example, grandchildren and/or great-grandchildren – so that a child takes if their parent has died.
- Siblings (including half-siblings and adopted siblings). This category includes the children/lineal descendants of any siblings who have died before the deceased.
- Aunts and uncles.
- First cousin/s.
The purpose of this ‘order’ is to consider each category one by one, starting with the first, in order to determine if the deceased had any relatives that fit the description. Once the deceased’s next of kin have been identified in accordance with the above process, the legislation also sets out what percentage of the estate these next of kin are entitled to; that is, how the estate is to be shared.
It’s important to note that the explanation above is merely a summary of the intestacy and succession processes in NSW, and should not be taken as legal advice. Remember that this area of the law is complicated and multi-layered and you should seek professional legal advice to understand your rights in relation to an intestate estate.
Who Can Get Letters of Administration in NSW?
Under the laws of NSW Letters of Administration, it is generally only the person/s who are entitled to receive all or a part of the deceased’s estate who are entitled to apply for a grant of Letters of Administration. Two or more eligible people can apply jointly for a grant of Letters of Administration.
When to Apply for Letters of Administration NSW
In NSW, you should file an application for Letters of Administration within six months of the deceased’s death.
How to Apply for Letters of Administration NSW
The process for applying for Letters of Administration in New South Wales can be complex, and is usually less straight-forward than applying for probate NSW.
In order to get Letters of Administration, a person entitled to be appointed administrator should follow these steps:
- Look for the deceased’s will – You must conduct a comprehensive search for any will or document that sets out the deceased’s intentions with regard to their estate. This involves looking through the deceased’s papers, speaking to those close to the deceased, and making inquiries with people and/or institutions that the deceased may have been likely to provide a will to; for example, the Supreme Court of NSW or the deceased’s solicitor. Your search must be sufficiently thorough to convince the Court that no such will or relevant document exists.
- Death certificate – Apply to the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages for a death certificate.
- Work out who should apply – As mentioned above, the person/s who are entitled to inherit the deceased’s assets should apply for Letters of Administration. To work out who this is, see ‘Intestacy and inheritance’ above.
- Notice of intention – Publish a notice of your intention to apply for Letters of Administration on the NSW Online Registry. At the time of writing, the fee for publication was $46.
- Complete the application forms – Application forms can be obtained from the NSW Justice website. Completing these forms to the standard required by the Court can be time-consuming and tricky, and it is a good idea to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
- Submit the application – After waiting at least 14 days from the date on which your notice of intention was published, you can file your application for Letters of Administration with the Supreme Court of NSW Registry. Submissions can be done by post or in person.
Letters of Administration NSW – Costs and Fees
At the time of writing, the NSW Supreme Court filing fee for Letters of Administration was as follows:
|Value of Estate Assets (in NSW)||NSW Letters of Administration Filing Fee|
|Less than $100,000||$0|
|$100,000 – $249,999||$748|
|$250,000 – $499,999||$1,015|
|$500,000 – $999,999||$1,556|
|$1,000,000 – $1,999,999||$2,073|
|$2,000,000 – $4,999,999||$3,455|
|$5,000,000 or more||$5,759|
How Long Does a Grant of Letters of Administration in NSW Take?
Applications should be processed within 5 business days. Keep in mind that applications that are filled out incorrectly or are missing important information can significantly delay the process.
Getting Legal Help – Fixed Fee Service
As you can see, applying for Letters of Administration in New South Wales can be complicated – there are searches to conduct, forms to complete and legislation to interpret. Undertaking the process without adequate experience or advice can lead to errors in determining entitlement and failures in satisfying court requirements. This in turn creates enormous stress and can hold up the process while you go round in circles trying to work out how to rectify your mistakes.
Professional advice is both important and helpful in ensuring an application for Letters of Administration is done correctly and efficiently. However, we know that that advice should not come at an exorbitant cost. Gathered Here offers access to the best lawyers at the most affordable rates. Our Fixed Fee Service means you’ll be told the legal fee for your Letters of Administration application before any work is commenced. Get a fixed fee quote now – it’s free and there’s no obligation to proceed.
Reimbursement of Administration Costs From the Estate
Remember that costs associated with acting as administrator such as the costs of our Fixed Fee Service and the NSW Supreme Court’s filing fee can be reimbursed from the deceased’s estate once a grant of Letters of Administration is obtained.
We hope you’ve found this guide to Letters of Administration NSW useful. For information about dealing with a deceased’s estate, see our Probate FAQs.
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