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What is a Grant of Letters of Administration and When is it Needed?

Simon Colwill - August 14, 2023 - 0 comments

When an adult passes away in the UK, their estate and assets must be managed and distributed according to their Will. However, when there is no Will or their Will is invalid or names people that aren’t able to carry out their assigned role, there are certain legal procedures and documents that are required instead.

MSC Notaries explain the Grant of Letters of Administration including when it is required, who can apply and how to go about obtaining this. 

What is a Grant of Letters of Administration?

The Grant of Letters of Administration is an official type of Grant of Representation document that authorises an individual the role of Administrator, which means they have the legal power to manage the affairs of a deceased individual’s estate. This can include distributing assets like property or investments, settling any debts they owe and more. 

There are two types of these:

  • Letters of Administration – required when the deceased died without a Will, which is otherwise referred to as dying intestate.
  • Letters of Administration with Will annexed – required when the deceased did have a Will but didn’t name an Executor or none of the Executors are able to apply for a Grant of Probate, for example, if they have died themselves or are unwilling to apply for another reason. 

Once granted Letters of Administration, the individual is responsible for managing and distributing the deceased’s estate in a fair and equitable manner. Any financial losses or debts left unpaid may fall on the Administrator personally should they fail to carry out their duty properly.

What is the difference between a Grant of Letters of Administration and a Grant of Probate?

It’s essential to understand the difference between these two documents before you attempt to apply or advise others to do so, as it will depend on the circumstances to which you need. 

Essentially, the document required depends on whether the deceased individual has a valid Will or not. If they do have a Will and an Executor is named who is able and willing to apply, they will need to apply for a Grant of Probate. 

If there is no Will, a Letter of Administration is issued to the person entitled to inherit from the deceased, according to the laws of intestacy.

If there is a Will but this is not valid or no one is named as Executor, a Grant of Administration will also be needed with ‘Will annexed’. 

When is a Grant of Letters of Administration required?

A Grant of Administration isn’t required in all instances of a person’s death, it depends on the assets and estate of the deceased and who is due to inherit these. For example, some assets don’t need this document to be released, such as amounts of money below a certain threshold. The threshold whereby banks will release money differs depending on the institution used, however generally, any sum more than £5000 will require a Probate or Letters of Administration for it to be released. 

Other instances where you won’t need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration include:

  • Cash or personal assets such as cars, and jewellery.
  • Property jointly owned.
  • Bank accounts jointly owned. 
  • Debts that equal a value greater than the deceased’s total assets.
  • Life insurance policies and pensions. 

Grant of Letters of Administration will always be required if the deceased has property to manage in their sole name, or if they have large amounts of money to distribute. 

Who is eligible to apply for a Grant of Administration?

The deceased’s next of kin is the only person who can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, and there is a strict order of priority regarding who this individual is known as the rules of intestacy.

The order of next of kin according to the law of intestacy is as follows:

  • The deceased’s spouse or civil partner. Partners can still apply if they are separated but not in a marriage or civil partnership.
  • The deceased’s children, including adopted children but not stepchildren.
  • The deceased’s parent(s).
  • The deceased’s sibling(s), not including half-siblings.
  • The deceased’s grandparent(s).
  • The deceased’s uncle or aunt(s).

The rules of intestacy can understandably cause issues and costly disputes among families, particularly in modern family relationships. For example, unmarried partners and stepchildren are not legally recognised or included in the order. 

How can you apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

Prepare your documentation

You will need to provide proof of all the deceased’s assets in document form including any debts owed so their estate can be accounted for and accurately valued and you can determine how much inheritance tax is owed (if applicable).

Complete a PA1A form and send it to the Probate Registry for authorisation along with the deceased’s death certificate

You will also need to submit a suitable inheritance tax form (if this is applicable in your case).

Submitting your application

The application for a Grant of Letters of Administration can be submitted online or via post. 

How much does it cost to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?

There is a £273 fee for applying for Letters of Administration.

It is an extra £1.50 per extra copy you would like, and it is best to obtain multiple documents with the volume depending on the number of institutions you will need to provide these to deal with the deceased’s assets. 

What is the timeframe to apply for a Grant of Administration?

The timeframe for being granted Letters of Administration will differ depending on how straightforward the situation is. For example, whether it is clear who is next of kin and able to apply. For example, if the deceased has a large or distant family, the process of identifying the appropriate person to apply can become more complicated and lengthy. Once it is determined who will apply, it is then down to them to calculate the inheritance tax payable, have the deceased’s assets valued and submit their application. 

Once you have submitted your application, it can take a period of up to 16 weeks from the date of sending off your documents to receiving your granted Letters of Administration.

This process can take even longer if your application isn’t submitted correctly or with all the necessary documents so it’s important to make sure you get it right to avoid delays and stress. Many people prefer to and are recommended to work with those offering professional legal services, like our team at MSC Notaries, who can help you with the obtaining and preparation of your documents and application. 

How can MSC Notaries help?

At MSC Notaries and Solicitors, we have a team of experienced, skilled and friendly legal professionals who are ready to help you in the process of applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration, or identifying who is appropriate to apply. 

Our Wills, trusts and probate solicitors have decades of experience in helping you to manage estate administration at a time when it can feel overwhelming, to make sure the process is as stress-free and straightforward for you and your family as possible. 

For more information on the Grant of Letters of Administration, the Grant of Probate or with any other queries, get in touch with our team today.

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