If your loved one or close relative has passed away in Victoria 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 Victoria 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 Vic, 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 Vic
- When and how to apply for Letters of Administration in Vic
- Costs and fees of Letters of Administration Vic
- Using a lawyer to apply for Letters of Administration Vic
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 (or without a valid 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 Victorian legislation (specifically, the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic)), there is an ‘order’ of relatives of the deceased who are entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate. It is necessary to identify who is the deceased’s closest next of kin.
This order can be summarised as follows:
- Spouse/domestic partner.
- Children. This includes adopted children but does not include step-children.
- Siblings. This includes nieces and nephews if their parent (being the deceased’s sibling) has died.
- Nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, great-grandparents.
- Even more remote next of kin.
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, Victorian 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 Victoria, 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 Vic?
Under the laws of Victoria’s 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 Vic
In Victoria, you should file an application for Letters of Administration within three months of the deceased’s death.
How to Apply for Letters of Administration Vic
The process for applying for Letters of Administration in Victoria can be complex, and is usually less straight-forward than applying for probate Vic.
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. Your search must be sufficiently thorough to convince the Court that no such will or relevant document exists.
- Death certificate – Apply to Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria 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 Victorian Probate Online Advertising System. At the time of writing, the fee for publication was $26, to be paid by credit card.
- Complete the application forms – Application forms can be obtained from the Supreme Court of Victoria 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 in person at the Probate Office of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Letters of Administration Vic – Costs and Fees
At the time of writing, the Victorian Supreme Court filing fee for Letters of Administration was as follows:
|Value of Estate Assets (in Victoria)||Victoria Letters of Administration Filing Fee|
|Less than $500,000||$60.70|
|$500,000 – $999,999||$325.10|
|$1,000,000 – $1,999,999||$606.90|
|$2,000,000 – $2,999,999||$1,329.40|
|$3,000,000 or more||$2,051.90|
How Long Does a Grant of Letters of Administration in Vic Take?
Applications should be processed and the grant posted to you within 5-10 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 Victoria 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 Victorian 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 Vic useful. For information about dealing with a deceased’s estate, see our Probate FAQs.
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