If your loved one or close relative has passed away in South Australia 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 SA 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 SA, 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 SA
- How to apply for Letters of Administration in SA
- Costs and fees of Letters of Administration SA
- Using a lawyer to apply for Letters of Administration SA
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 South Australian legislation (specifically, the Administration and Probate Act 1919 (South Australia)), 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 or domestic partner only. A ‘domestic partner’ is a person who was in a registered relationship with the deceased or someone declared to have been a domestic partner of the deceased as at the date of the deceased’s death.
- Spouse or domestic partner and children.
- 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 their children – so that a child takes if their parent has died. This category includes adopted children.
- Siblings. This category includes the children of any siblings who have died before the deceased.
- Aunts and uncles. This category includes the children of any aunts/uncles who have died before the deceased.
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 South Australia, 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 SA?
Under the laws of SA 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.
How to Apply for Letters of Administration SA
The process for applying for Letters of Administration in South Australia can be complex, and is usually less straight-forward than applying for probate SA.
In order to get Letters of Administration, a person entitled to be appointed administrator should follow these steps:
- Death certificate – Apply to the South Australian Government 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.
- Complete the application forms – You must complete a Grant Application Form on the CourtSA website. Completing this form 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 – You can lodge your application for Letters of Administration through the CourtSA website.
Letters of Administration SA – Costs and Fees
At the time of writing, the SA Supreme Court filing fee for Letters of Administration was as follows:
|Value of Estate Assets (in South Australia)||South Australia Letters of Administration Filing Fee|
|$200,000 or less||$797|
|$200,001 – $500,000||$1,594|
|$500,001 – $1,000,000||$2,125|
|More than $1,000,000||$3,187|
Getting Legal Help – Fixed Fee Service
As you can see, applying for Letters of Administration in South Australia 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 SA 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 SA useful. For information about dealing with a deceased’s estate, see our Probate FAQs.
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