Legal Guide

All you need to know about the letter of administration

Contrary to what some people believe, Letters of Administration are not part of the probate process. Unlike Letters Testamentary, used when someone is appointed as an executor in a Will, Letters of Administration are required when a loved one dies intestate (without leaving a will). Letters of Administration allow the administrator the same rights as an executor who is probating a will. However, Letters of Administration also include another step: because there is no will, it must be proven that whoever died had no surviving children, spouse, or parents who could inherit their property. The Letters must be filed with the court and published in two newspapers as well.


Estates worth less than £10,000 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland can be passed without going to court. You can claim some assets of the deceased without a legal will if the estate is worth more than £250. Assets under £5,000 from an estate where there is no valid will are paid out without probate.

According to the Wills Act of 1965, the property will be divided in accordance with the personal estate law that applies at the time of death. Unless otherwise stated in a will or in circumstances where there is no will, there is no executor. In this case, when a will has not been made, it is important to understand who is entitled to apply for the letters.

Who can apply

In the event that there are siblings, parents, or children of the deceased person, the surviving widow or widower will not have the right to apply for letters of administration.

Who can apply letters of administration? The order of the list of relatives is relevant to the interpretation of the legislation. For example, if no surviving spouse is available, then the following order listed below can apply:

  • Civil Partner or Spouse - excluding Common Law Partner
  • Children
  • Sons or Daughters of the Deceased's Children
  • Parents, Brothers, and Sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts or Uncles - but not their spouses

Hire a lawyer

There may be several reasons for which you require the services of a legal specialist in administering the estate. The last wish of every person should be carried out without any obstacle and deed, upon his or her death, by ensuring that there is a will to follow. However, to ensure that you do not create complications for your family and yourself, it is advisable that you appoint a lawyer as the executor before you die. As an individual, it is important to appoint a legal expert to deal with the administration of the will before you apply for the letters. Failure to do so might result in unnecessary disputes over the will.

So it is very important to make arrangements with an experienced and reliable legal firm for writing or drawing up the will. The will is the execution of a legal process to pass on property, assets, rights, or money from one person on death to his or her family members or other beneficiaries.

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