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Letters of Administration

If a family member has died with assets and has not left a Will, there may be complex issues that arise and at Websters Lawyers, we can help you with the steps required to deal with the estate.

person who dies without a Will, has died ‘intestate’.  In South Australia, the Administration and Probate Act 1919 sets out how the estate is to be distributed amongst surviving family members.  Generally, the person who is likely to be the main beneficiary of the estate, called the Administrator, will make the application to the Supreme Court for a Grant Letters of Administration.  Until such time as the grant is made, a person does not have authority to deal with the assets of the estate.

How The Estate Can Be Distributed

The Act provides the various ways that an intestate estate will be distributed depending on the surviving family members.  If a person dies leaving a spouse or domestic partner but no children, then the estate is distributed to the spouse or the domestic partner. If there is a spouse or domestic partner and children but the estate is worth less than $100,000.00 then the surviving spouse or domestic partner is entitled to the whole estate.

If the estate is more than $100,000.00 and a person dies leaving a spouse or domestic partner and children, then the surviving spouse or domestic partner is entitled to $100,000.00 and one half of the balance of the net estate and the children of the deceased are entitled to the remaining balance of the net estate equally. If there is no spouse or domestic partner then the children are entitled equally to the estate. Of course, where there is both a spouse and a domestic partner (for example where there is a separation but no divorce) this can become complicated and will require specific advice.

The Administrators Role

The Act also details how the estate is to be distributed to wider family members and at Websters Lawyers we can provide you further advice in relation to other potential beneficiaries.

An Administrator’s role is similar to the role of an Executor. An Administrator will need to undertake various duties including ascertaining and taking control of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, paying the deceased’s debts and the expenses of administering the estate and then distributing the estate in accordance with the Act.

There are also situations where Letters of Administration with a Will annexed may need to be obtained from the Supreme Court, including where there is a Will but an executor has not been appointed or the named executor has died. We can also assist you with this more complicated procedure.

At Websters Lawyers, we have experienced solicitors who can guide you at all stages of the administration process to ensure that all obligations have been satisfied by the Administrator.


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*Please note: Websters lawyers is a South Australian based law firm, handling matters exclusive to South Australia, with offices located in Adelaide, Ridgehaven and Smithfield.

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