LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
Letters of administration are an official document issued by the Supreme Court of Victoria, which confirms the identity of the person or persons entitled to deal with the estate as an “administrator”. This document is issued in circumstances where no executor was appointed under a valid will, or no executor is able or willing to act in that role.
Do I Need to Obtain Letters of Administration?
You may need to obtain letters of administration if you cannot locate a valid will or if there is an issue with the will that requires an administrator to be appointed. This will give you the legal authority to deal with the estate assets.
When Is Letters of Administration Required in Victoria?
There are two types of letters of administration in Victoria: letters of administration with no will and letters of administration with the will annexed. The former is used when the deceased person died without a will, and the latter is used when there is an issue with the appointment of the executor under the will. Letters of administration are not required if the deceased person had a valid will that appointed an executor who is willing and able to act, or if the deceased person’s assets were mainly held in joint names, which pass to the surviving joint holder automatically.
What is ‘Parchment Paper’ and Why Do I Need It for Letters of Administration?
Traditionally, the Supreme Court of Victoria issued hard copy grants that were stapled to thick cardboard called “parchment”. In 2020, the Court moved to issuing online grants only through RedCrest. Your solicitor can provide you a certified copy of the grant after inspecting the “original” held in RedCrest. Digital grants now include a unique identifier in the bottom right-hand corner.
Who is Entitled to Apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration in Victoria?
Typically, the person who stands to inherit the most from an estate is the most eligible to make the application. Other interested parties, such as creditors, can make an application, but the Court may require them to take out insurance known as a “surety guarantee” to protect the estate if their administration was somehow deficient.
In Melbourne and Victoria, a legal set of rules are applied to determine who has the higher priority to act as the representative of the estate. When someone higher in priority does not wish to act, or, cannot act then the priority shifts to the next person in the list. The order of priority applies as follows:
- surviving spouse,
- grandchildren or great-grandchildren,
- brothers and sisters,
- children of deceased brothers and sisters,
- uncles and aunts,
- first cousins, then
- anyone else the court may appoint.
How Long Does Letters of Administration Take in Victoria?
An application for letters of administration usually takes the Supreme Court of Victoria 4-6 weeks to process. The application process may take longer if the Court needs to ask additional questions or if there is some controversy related to the application. The death certificate is required for the application, so the process may be delayed if the death certificate takes a long time to issue.
Can You Get a Reseal of Letters of Administration in Victoria?
Yes, a reseal is a restamping of a grant made in another Commonwealth jurisdiction, most commonly an Australian state or territory. The reseal confirms that the grant is recognized as valid within Victoria.
When Do I Need to Get a Reseal of Letters of Administration in Victoria?
A reseal is typically required if the deceased person owned real estate in Victoria at the date of their death. Most banks and share registries will recognize grants from other jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the land titles office will not, so you will need to obtain a reseal if real property is owned in Victoria and letters of administration was granted in another jurisdiction.
If you need assistance with letters of administration in Victoria, contact our experienced solicitors at Shane McClure. We can provide you with compassionate understanding, and help you move forward.