This article was written by David Evans - Senior Associate - Sydney

David has extensive experience in estate planning, estate administration and estate litigation. With a strong background in drafting wills and testamentary trusts, David has a keen eye for the various traps and pitfalls that allow a will to be contested. Dealing almost exclusively with claims under the Family Provision by family members seeking adequate provision from a will, David is...

Costs Associated With Obtaining Letters of Administration


Obtaining a grant of letters of administration in the estate of a deceased person is common work for any solicitor who practises in wills and estates. A person is required to apply for letters of administration if the deceased passed intestate or did not name an executor in the will. A person has 6 months following the date of the deceased person’s death to apply for letters of administration.

What does my solicitor have to disclose?

Before taking on the role of assisting a client with applying for a grant of letters of administration, solicitors are required to disclose their estimated costs associated with obtaining the grant and with acting in the estate administration. Where a solicitor proposes to charge more than $750, a costs agreement must be entered into between the solicitor and their client.

How much can my solicitor charge?

In New South Wales, the fees a solicitor can charge in relation to obtaining a grant of letters of administration are fixed by state government regulations. The prescribed fees are based on the gross value of the estate assets.

Schedule 3 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Regulations 2015 (NSW) prescribes the maximum fees a solicitor can charge for their work in relation to obtaining a grant of letters of administration as follows:

Gross value of estate assets Solicitor’s costs payable
Not exceeding $30,000 $560
Plus $13.33 for each $1,000 up to $30,000
Exceeding $30,000 but not exceeding $150,000 $960
Plus $5.90 for each $1,000 in excess of $30,000
Exceeding $150,000 but not exceeding $1,000,000 $1,670
Plus $4.47 for each $1,000 in excess of $150,000
Exceeding $1,000,000 but not exceeding $3,000,000 $5,470
Plus $1.66 for each $1,000 in excess of $1,000,000
Exceeding $3,000,000 but not exceeding $5,000,000 $8,800
Plus $1.10 for each $1,000 in excess of $3,000,000
Exceeding $5,000,000 but not exceeding $10,000,000 $11,000
Plus $0.90 for each $1,000 in excess of $5,000,000
Exceeding $10,000,000 $15,500

 

The prescribed fees are exclusive of GST. A solicitor is entitled to recover GST by charging an amount of 10% above the prescribed fees.

For example, where the estate assets total a gross value of $500,000, a solicitor may charge:

  • $1,670.00 (being an estate exceeding $150,000, but not exceeding $1,000,000)

plus

  • $1,564.50 (being $4.47 for each $1,000 in excess of $150,000)

Total prescribed fees: $3,234.50 (plus 10% GST)

TOTAL: $3,557.95 (incl GST)

What do the prescribed fees cover?

The prescribed fees cover the work performed by a solicitor in obtaining a grant of letters of administration, including:

  • publishing the online notice to apply for administration;
  • drafting all relevant court documents including the Summons for Administration, Affidavit of Administrator, Grant of Letters of Administration and Inventory of Property;
  • filing the application for letters of administration with the court;
  • responding to any requisitions from the court; and
  • filing additional affidavits and materials in response to any requisitions.

Can my solicitor charge more?

It is important to note that the prescribed fees apply only to the costs associated with obtaining the grant of letters of administration. They do not apply to the solicitor’s work relating to actually administering of the estate once the grant has been issued. Work relating to administering the estate is usually billed at the solicitor’s hourly rate in accordance with the costs disclosed in their costs agreement.

Additionally, it should also be noted that the prescribed fees generally apply to an application for an ‘uncontested’ grant of letters of administration. Where a solicitor is advising on a disputed application for administration, additional charges will usually be appropriate.

Is there a court fee?

In addition to the solicitor’s fees, there are also court filing fees payable to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The court filing fees are based on the gross value of the estate assets in New South Wales. The filing fees are updated by the court on 1 July of each year. As at 1 July 2020 the filing fees are as follows:

Gross value of estate assets in New South Wales Filing fee
Less than $100,000 $0.00
$100,000 or more, but less than $250,000 $772.00
$250,000 or more, but less than $500,000 $1,048.00
$500,000 or more, but less than $1,000,000 $1,607.00
$1,000,000 but less than $2,000,000.00 $2,141.00
$2,000,000 or more but less than $5,000,000.00 $3,568.00
$5,000,000 or more $5,948.00

 

It is also necessary to publish a notice of intention to apply for administration on the NSW Supreme Court Online Registry at a cost of $48.00.

To use the previous example, where the estate assets in New South Wales total $500,000, court filing fees will be as follows:-

  • $48.00 (publication of notice of intended application for administration)

plus

  • $1,607.00 (being an estate of $500,000 or more, but less than $1,000,000)

plus

  • $48.00 (publication of notice of intended distribution)

TOTAL FILING FEES: $1,703.00

Adding the two together, where the estate assets in New South Wales total $500,000, the total costs in obtaining a grant of letters of administration will be:-

  • $3,557.95 (Solicitor’s fees, including GST);

plus

  • $1,703.00 (Court filing fees)

TOTAL COSTS OF GRANT: $5,260.95

Who pays the costs of obtaining the grant?

The court filing fee and solicitor’s professional costs associated with obtaining a grant of letters of administration are estate expenses. These costs can be properly reimbursed to the administrator from the estate assets prior to distribution to the beneficiaries.

What happens next?

Once a grant of letters of administration had been issued by the court, the administrator can then instruct their solicitor to proceed with the estate administration. In simple cases, this will usually involve calling in the estate assets, selling the assets where required and attending to distribution to the beneficiaries. A solicitor’s fees for the estate administration vary with the work required to be performed and will be determined by the nature and complexity of the estate.

If you need to apply for letters of administration, or have any other questions relating to an estate, please call Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223 or send us an email.

WHERE TO NEXT?

Have you been left out of a Will or treated unfairly? We offer a free assessment of your case and a no win no fee policy. We have a specialist team that deals only in Wills & Estates servicing NSW, VIC, QLD, ACT, SA & WA. The law relating to Wills and Estates can often be complex and confusing so we encourage you to make contact with our team.

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