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This article was written by Dr Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade working in higher education, Nicola joined Armstrong Legal in 2020.

Letter Of Administration (Qld)


The Probate Office of the Supreme Court of Queensland has exclusive jurisdiction over the issuance of probate grants for the deceased estates of Queensland residents, and can also issue grants to those who owned real property within the state at the time of death. The Probate Court makes orders for Letters of Administration when a deceased passes away without making a will (intestate), dies partially intestate, or has no named or willing executor. The different types of Letters of Administration and their purpose are outlined below.

What Is A Letter Of Administration?

A Letter of Administration is a court order that affirms that the named person is authorised to manage the affairs of a specific deceased estate. Asset holders such as banks typically require the document to facilitate the release of valuable property, funds and investments, and government departments often require the authorisation to converse with the administrator about the deceased estate.

In Queensland, two types of Letters of Administration are issued: Letters of Administration (With A Will), which are warranted when there is a valid will attached to the application for probate, and Letters of Administration (Without A Will), which are granted for intestate estates.

Eligible Applicants For A Letter Of Administration

The Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 stipulates that only potential beneficiaries of an estate can apply for Letters of Administration. One eligible applicant can apply with the written consent of all other beneficiaries, or several can apply to be appointed joint administrator. In the event that the eligible parties are not in agreement, they can file competing applications and the court will decide who has the greatest right to administer the estate. Letters of Administration are typically granted to the next of kin of the deceased, commonly the surviving de facto or marital spouse or an adult child of the deceased. The court prefers to issue a grant to a close member of the deceased’s family, but if none are available or willing, then the court will entertain applications from more distant relatives or other suitable applicants (including the Public Trustee) in the best interests of the estate.

How To Apply

Before someone can apply for Letters of Administration in Queensland, they must advertise a Notice of Intended Application on the Probate Registry website and delay their application for 14 days. The application must be lodged with an original death certificate, the original will (if applicable), and the names and known contact information of any potential beneficiaries of the deceased estate. The Registry will typically assess the application within three weeks unless further information is required or an objection is filed against the application.

Costs of Applying

Even if an applicant is able to discharge all duties of the application by themselves, they will have to pay mandatory court fees to file for Letters of Administration in QLD. The current fees can be located here.

Duties

Once appointed by Letters of Administration, an administrator manages the estate either according to the wishes expressed in the will (if there is one) or in line with the Succession Act 1981. They make an inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, lodge a final tax return for the deceased, and make arrangements for any testamentary trusts. Any secured debts of the deceased must be discharged using the capital in the estate. The Letters of Administration authorise the administrator to defend the estate from a legal contest, challenge or claim.

Is It Necessary To Apply For Letters Of Administration?

Depending on the testamentary circumstances of the deceased, it may not be necessary to apply for Letters of Administration. In Queensland, asset holders will typically release smaller value assets without a court order if the administrator indemnifies them against future liability. It is best to make contact with the asset holder directly to confirm the institution’s policy in this regard.

In the event that the deceased only owned assets that were jointly held with someone else, the property or bank accounts will transfer to the sole ownership of the surviving owner upon notification of the death of the co-owner. When the deceased has created a binding death benefit nomination for their superannuation and insurance policies, then these benefits will automatically be allocated to the nominated recipient. The deceased may have also made arrangements while they were still alive to reduce the size of their deceased estate by making donations to charity and giving away assets to family members and friends as they saw fit. This may cause taxation and social security complications, but it will have the effect of limiting the task of estate administration and ensure that the gifts are made in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.

The solicitors on the contested wills team at Armstrong Legal can help you draft an application for Letters of Administration, and have extensive experience with every aspect of estate administration. For advice on probate matters or any other area of law, please call our office. 

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