A grant of representation is a legal document that vests title to the deceased’s property to an executor or administrator. This gives authority to the Executor or Administrator to deal with the assets and liabilities of the deceased’s Estate.
There are two types of grant of representation:
- Probate; and
- Letters of Administration.
Probate is a grant issued by the Supreme Court. The grant of probate officially confirms the validity of the last Will of a deceased person and the appointment of executors. In most cases, a Will cannot be affected, and assets cannot be distributed to beneficiaries by the Executor/s until after probate has been granted. If the deceased’s Estate is very small, the Executor may not have to apply for a grant of probate.
Letters of Administration is the Court’s approval for someone (the Administrator) to deal with and administer the deceased’s Estate. An application for letters of administration must be made to the Supreme Court, if the deceased does not have a valid Will or if no executor has been appointed.
There are two types of letters of administration:
- “Letters of Administration” – if there is no valid Will; and
- “Letters of Administration with the Will annexed” – if the Executor is unwilling or unable to apply for probate – e.g. the Executor has died, and a substitute executor is not named in the Will.
The deceased’s closest next of kin must apply for letters of administration to be appointed Administrator of the Estate. This is often the deceased’s spouse, domestic partner or one of their children. A grant of letters of administration will allow the Administrator to collect and distribute the deceased’s assets.
The process of applying for letters of administration can be complex. Before you can even begin applying for letters of administration, you must search for any Will that the deceased may have made and publish a notice of intended application. It is wise to get legal advice prior to commencing an application for a grant of letters of administration.