Letters of administration (also known as a grant of letters of administration) is a document issued by the probate registry. This allows someone to act as the administrator of an estate after someone has died.
What are letters of administration?
A grant of letters of administration is an official court document that proves you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate. Once the document has been issued, you’ll be able to act as the administrator of the estate, allowing you to close bank accounts, sell property and distribute assets to beneficiaries.
You may also hear this document referred to as a grant of representation, which is the collective term for both a grant of letters of administration or a grant of probate.
When is a grant of letters of administration required in the UK?
A grant of letters of administration may be required if your loved one died without leaving a will. It may also be required if your loved one made a will but the executors are unable to deal with the estate. In this scenario, the document is known as a grant of letters of administration with will annexed.
A grant of letters of administration is usually required if:
There is no will
The will has been deemed invalid
There are no executors named in the will
The executors named in the will are unable to deal with the estate themselves
If your loved one did write a will and you are one of the executors, you’ll need to apply for a grant of probate instead.
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When a grant of letters of administration isn't required
A grant of letters of administration may not be needed if the total value of the estate is less than £10,000, or if the estate is only made up of:
Cash and personal possessions like cars and jewellery
Property that is jointly owned
Bank accounts that are jointly owned
Debts with a higher value than the assets
Life insurance policies and pension benefits
It only takes a few minutes to find out if you need a grant of letters of administration. Call our probate specialists today on 020 3695 2090 and we’ll be more than happy to help.
Who needs to apply for a grant of letters of administration?
The person who stands to inherit the most under the rules of intestacy is usually responsible for applying for a grant of letters of administration. This is usually the spouse or civil partner of the person who died.
If the person who died doesn’t have a living spouse or civil partner, another family member will need to submit the application. Using the list below, you can see who usually takes responsibility next based on their relationship with the person who died:
Children (or grandchildren if children have died)*
Siblings (or nieces and nephews over 18 if siblings have died)
Half-siblings (or nieces and nephews over 18 if half-siblings have died)
Aunts or uncles
Children of aunts and uncles (cousins)
Once the application has been submitted and approved by the probate registry, the person named on the application will be appointed as the administrator of the estate. This gives them the legal authority to close accounts, sell property and distribute assets.
*If children are under 18, an adult can apply on their behalf. This is usually a parent or someone else with parental responsibility.
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How to get a letter of administration
To get a grant of letters of administration, you need to submit an application to the probate registry. You can do this yourself if you’re confident handling the paperwork and tax forms. But if you’re concerned about making mistakes or just want to get things moving as quickly as possible, you may be better off using a probate solicitor.
Here are the key steps to get a grant of letters of administration:
Speak to a probate specialist over the phone to discuss the value and details of your loved one’s estate.
Your probate application and tax forms are then prepared and sent to you to be signed.
The application is then submitted to the probate registry for approval.
Once your application has been approved, your grant of letters of administration will be sent out to you in the post.
How long does it take to get a letter of administration?
It takes around 30 days to get a grant of letters of administration if the case is fairly simple. For more complex estates, this can take slightly longer.
Once your application has been approved and your grant has been sent out in the post, you’ll then need to close accounts, sell property and distribute assets to beneficiaries as per the rules of intestacy.
This process can take anywhere between 3-12 months – it really depends on the number of accounts in the estate and how many properties, if any, need to be sold or transferred.
If you would like help with the admin side of things, you may be interested in our Complete Probate service. This covers everything from calculating the value of the estate, to submitting the application, to distributing assets to beneficiaries. Simply call us on 020 3695 2090 for a free, no obligation quote.
What do letters of administration cost?
It costs £215 to apply for a grant of letters of administration, or £155 if a professional probate service is applying on your behalf. These are the probate registry fees for handling an application.
If you’re using a professional probate service, additional case handling fees will apply, taking the total cost to around £750 if the estate is fairly simple. This fee covers the time and care taken to prepare your probate application and tax forms, and it also gives you the peace of mind that everything has been handled correctly.
What does the probate registry do?