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Letters of Administration

Our dedicated solicitors can support you in applying for Letters of Administration, when a will is unenforceable or invalid. We are by your side to ensure that you receive straightforward and effective legal advice.

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Letters of Administration

Dealing with a loved one’s estate after their death is usually straightforward when they leave a valid will. In cases where there is no will, or there is a problem with it the next of kin will need to apply for Letters of Administration to take control of assets, transfer funds, pay debts, and share money or property.

Understanding what to do when someone dies without leaving a will

According to the rules of intestacy, when a person dies without leaving a will, the estate can be passed down according to a hierarchy of relatives or next of kin.

It’s not a simple case of the closest living relative assuming ownership of the estate. There is a legal process that must be followed.

Applying for Letters of Administration

If someone dies without leaving a will you have to decide if you are the appropriate person to deal with the estate, according to the rules of intestacy. If you’re not a spouse or civil partner, talk to a solicitor first to see how likely it will be for your application to succeed.

Then it is up to the person responsible to apply for Letters of Administration. The courts won’t automatically grant the authority after the person passes away.

There are certain steps you will have to take following the death of a loved one before you can apply for Letters of Administration. The first is registering the death within five days and obtaining the death certificate.

Next, you will need to get an accurate evaluation of the estate. Then you will have to report the total value of the estate to HMRC and pay any inheritance tax due.

Once this is complete you can apply for Letters of Administration by filling out form PA1A on the UK government website. It is essential this form is filled out accurately as any mistakes may have serious personal legal implications for you.

All matters related to Probate are complex and the process could be invalidated by a minor error which is why it’s important to get expert legal advice from the outset. If your application is rejected due to a mistake the estate could be left in limbo for some time.

In addition, you could pay a penalty if inheritance tax is not paid within 6 months.

Rowlinsons can help with gathering information and ensuring all paperwork is correctly completed.


What are Letters of Administration?

Letters of Administration are documents issued by the Probate Registry authorising you to act as an administrator for the estate of a person who has died.

Letters of Administration are usually required when there is no will, no named executor, or when it’s not possible for the executor to take on the role. They are considered public documents and can be seen by anyone who asks.

What’s the difference between Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration?

Before any estate can be administered, the personal representative has to apply to the court for a legal document known as a Grant of Representation. Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration are both Grants of Representation.

A Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration gives the personal representative the legal authority to access bank accounts, manage property or other investments, and take care of any liabilities.

A Grant of Probate can only be issued to the named executor of the will. This means when there is no will or named executor the closest living relative or next of kin will need to apply for Letters of Administration.

When do you need Letters of Administration?

There may be many circumstances where Letters of Administration are required after the death of a loved one.

The main reasons for requiring Letters of Administration include:

  • The deceased left no will and their intentions are unknown.
  • The will is ruled invalid by the court. The reason being, for example, the signature was not witnessed by 2 people.
  • The will failed to name any executors, so no one is authorised to execute it.
  • The executors named are unable or unwilling to fulfil the role.

Who can receive Letters of Administration?

The person who can receive Letters of Administration is normally the deceased’s next of kin. This is usually their surviving spouse or civil partner. An unmarried partner will not be eligible unless they are the sole beneficiary of the will.

Thereafter, the order of priority for family members goes:

  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • niece or nephew

If the relevant person is a minor or lacks the mental capacity, then other relatives will be prioritised.

Do you always need Letters of Administration when there’s no will?

Letters of Administration are not always required when the person dies without leaving a will. When the estate consists of only one or more of the following circumstances, you will not need to apply for Letters of Administration:

  • Property jointly owned by tenants in common
  • Jointly owned bank account
  • Cash, trusts, and liquid assets
  • Some life insurance policies
  • Possessions, jewellery etc.
  • Pension benefits in some cases

There is also no need for Letters of Administration when the deceased was insolvent or if their debts and tax expenses exceeded the value of their assets.

How long does it take to receive Letters of Administration?

If you are legally authorised to administer the estate after the death of a loved one you should receive your Grant of Letters of Administration within 16 weeks from the date of your application, however longer waits are common.

Once you receive the Letters of Administration you are legally authorised to manage the estate including distributing the assets in accordance with the will. If the deceased did not leave a will there are strict legal guidelines to follow when managing the estate. You may not do whatever you like with the estate.

Do I need a solicitor to apply for Letters of Administration?

It’s not a legal requirement to engage a solicitor to obtain Letters of Administration, but an expert probate solicitor can advise on all matters relating to estate administration, so you know you are carrying out your duties correctly.

The role of administrator is a serious responsibility and comes with many complex legal duties which can be particularly arduous at this distressing time. You will be personally liable for any legal mistakes when dealing with inheritance tax or problems with managing the estate after the Grant of Letters of Administration has been issued.

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Complications arising with Letters of Administration

Every situation is unique, and we understand that things can quickly get complicated when dealing with estate administration.

Some complications that may arise include:

  • The beneficiary of the will is a minor
  • The will is not clear
  • Money or property has been left in trust
  • The deceased owned land or property abroad
  • The person who passed away owned a business

We’re experienced in dealing with all matters that may arise during this process and are on hand with clear, practical advice to make the process go as smoothly as possible.


Contact our Letters of Administration Solicitors

We are a specialist firm of Solicitors in Cheshire with years of experience in Letters of Administration. We regularly help clients across England and Wales from our offices in Frodsham and Runcorn (Sutton Weaver), including individuals in Warrington, Widnes, St Helens, Chester, and Northwich.

Our friendly team include two full members of STEP and both have received a STEP Worldwide Excellence Award for achieving the highest mark nationally in one of the core exams. This demonstrates our expertise and commitment to giving you the best service possible.

In 2018 we were highly commended in the Solicitor Firm of the Year (North) category in the British Wills and Probate Awards. In the same year, we have won the Nation Law Society Award for Excellence in Private Client work. Rowlinsons Solicitors has recently been shortlisted for Boutique Private Client Team of The Year at the British Wills and Probate Awards.

Our team can assist with all aspects of the estate administration including closing Bank / Building Society accounts, transferring/selling land or residential property and ultimately distributing the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.

You’ll get direct access to your Estate Administration Solicitors and their assistants via telephone and email so you can be reassured that any query you have will be answered as quickly as possible.

At Rowlinsons we can help with:

  • Evaluating the size of the estate
  • Ascertaining whether any Inheritance Tax is payable
  • Completing the Inheritance Tax forms
  • Obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration

We have considerable experience in dealing with the administration of estates of all sizes and complexity so if you do require any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Call us today for an initial no obligation call or click here for a call back. We also have meeting facilities in North Wales for Family Law clients.