What are Letters of Administration? Probate Solicitors
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A Grant of Letters of Administration gives authority for up to four administrators to deal with the assets of a deceased person who has not left a will appointing executors. The administrator's powers are derived from the Grant of Letters of Administration as opposed to an executor who derives power directly from the will at the time of death. A potential administrator should not inter-meddle with the estate until the issue of the Grant of Letters of Administration following application to the Probate Office which deals with matters on behalf of the Probate Registry of the High Court of Justice. A proposed administrator may however consider that securing assets prior to the issue of the grant is important especially if the administrator is also likely to be one of the estates beneficiaries. An administrator or proposed administrator is personally liable to the beneficiaries. A Grant of Letters of Administration is appropriate if there is no valid will or if there is a valid will which does not specifically appoint at least one executor. The person who applies for a Grant of Letters of Administration is usually one of the potential beneficiaries under either the will or the Intestacy Rules.
An administrators powers under a Grant of Letters of Administration are extremely similar to an executors powers under a Grant of Probate. The administrator's role is one of responsibility to the beneficiaries which may require professional advice and assistance from a specialist solicitor. The main duties of an administrator are as follows :-
The administrator should secure all assets and where possible should take possession.
The administrator should take out insurance to protect the value of any relevant assets.
The administrator should pay all of the estates liabilities in order of priority including taxes.
The administrator should thereafter distribute the estate in accordance with the deceased wishes as set out in the will or where there is no will in accordance with the Intestacy Rules both of which may involve liquidation of some or all assets by way of sale.
Obtaining Grant of Representation
Obtaining authority to be either an executor or an administrator follows broadly similar principles. In both cases an application for a grant is made to the District Probate Registry of the High Court of Justice using standard forms. In the case where there is a will, the original must usually be submitted however in the case of a lost will it may be possible to use an authenticated copy in order to obtain authority as executor following consideration by a Judge. If there is no will or if the will does not appoint an executor, an application is made for a Grant of Letters of Administrator which authorises an administrator. If there is a will that appoints at least one executor, an application is made for a Grant of Probate which authorises an executor. Both an executor and an administrator must value all of the assets of the estate and estimate the liabilities before submitting this information to the Capital Taxes Office for determination of any tax due. Once these issues are resolved the Probate Office will issue the grant of representaion. In the case of an executor, once the assets are gathered in and debts paid the proceeds are distributed in accordance with the terms of the will. If there is no will, an administrator must similarly gather in the assets, pay the liabilities and thereafter distribute the net proceeds in accordance with the Intestacy Rules which sets an order of precedence amongst relatives of the deceased.
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