What is letters of administration?

Letters of administration is confirmation by the Court of the identity of the person or persons entitled to deal with the estate as “administrator”. The administrator is appointed in circumstances where either no executor was appointed under a valid will or no executor is able or willing to act in that role.

What is ‘parchment paper’ and why do I need it for letters of administration?

Traditionally the Supreme Court of Victoria issued hard copy grants, which were stapled to thick cardboard called ‘parchment’. In 2020 the Court moved to issuing online grants only through RedCrest. Your solicitor is still able to provide you a certified copy of the grant after inspecting the “original” held in RedCrest.

Digital grants, and copies of them, can be distinguished from copies of hardcopy grants, because the digital grants now include a unique identifier in the bottom right-hand corner.

When is letters of administration required in Victoria?

There are two forms of letters of administration in Victoria – letters of administration no will and letters of administration with the will annexed.

The former is used when the deceased person died intestate (ie. without a will) and appoints a person (usually a primary beneficiary) to administer the estate in accordance with a statutory framework. The latter is used where there is an issue with the appointment of executor under the will, usually either that the only named executor(s) have already died, or are unwilling to act in that role. In this case the beneficiary with the greatest entitlement under the will usually makes an application to be appointed the administrator to administer the estate in accordance with the will as if they were the original executor.

When is letters of administration not required in Victoria?

Letters of administration is not required if a deceased person died with a valid will that appointed an executor who is willing and able to act in that role. It is also not required if the deceased person left a small estate which can be dealt with without a grant, or if their assets were mainly all in joint names so pass to the surviving joint holder automatically.

Do I need to obtain letters of administration?

If you cannot locate a will or know there is an issue with the will, then you may need to obtain letters of administration in order to have the authority to deal with the estate assets.

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 person that is considered most eligible to make the application. Other interested parties, such as creditors, can make an application. However, the Court may require them to take out insurance known as a “surety guarantee” in order to protect the estate if their administration was somehow deficient.

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 come back to you 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 essentially a restamping of a grant made in another Commonwealth jurisdiction, most commonly an Australian state or territory. The reseal confirms that the grant is recognised as valid within Victoria.

When do I need to get a reseal of letters of administration in Victoria?

Typically a reseal is only required if the deceased person owned real estate in Victoria at the date of their death. Most banks and share registries will recognise 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.

Timothy Morton, Director FGD

Timothy Morton

Director – Wills & Probate Lawyer

Tim has acted in a number of complex probate litigation cases where the capacity and knowledge and approval of the willmaker was in doubt or where there have been concerns about whether the willmaker was unduly influenced by another person. Tim also regularly appears in the Guardianship Tribunal of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Tim holds a Master of Laws (Applied Law) majoring in Wills & Estates, he teaches and tutors Wills & Estates at the Australian National University, and he is a member of the ACT Law Society’s Elder Law & Succession Committee.

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