Letters of Administration
Letters of administration issue to empower a person to administer the estate of a person who has died without a valid applicable will. For most purposes, the procedure and process are similar to that in the case of a will and grant probate. The entitlements of the beneficiaries are defined by the Succession Act.
The entitlement to letters of administration follows the interest. The interest is fixed at the date of death. Persons in the same degree of relationship have equal rights. The person in that category, who applies first, obtains the grant.
Where a person dies intestate, the order of entitlement follows the rules of intestacy.
- Surviving spouse,
- child of the deceased;
- the issue of any child who has died during the lifetime of the deceased;
- the parents of the deceased;
- siblings of the deceased;
- children of a predeceased sibling;
- nieces and nephews of the whole or half blood;
- grandparents, uncles and aunts, great-grandparents, other next of kin; the nominee of the state.
The papers required for an application for a grant of letters of administration are broadly similar to those in respect of a grant of probate. They include:
- Inland Revenue affidavit;
- death certificate;
- oath for administrator intestate.
The oath for administrator sets out the entitlement of the applicant to the letters of administration in accordance with the above order. If for example, persons with earlier entitlement have, , for example, died or renounced entitlement this must be set out and accounted for. The oath, claims entitlement by clearing off persons with prior entitlement. They may for example never have existed, have predeceased etc.
A bond is required in the case of applications by persons other than executors who seek grants of representation. It provides an undertaking to pay a penalty of up to double the gross value of the estate for failures to administer the estate properly.
Sureties are required where specifically required by the Probate Officer. Where the High Court Probate Officer, District Probate Officer, requires the surety, a justification of surety is required in the case of a non-regulated insurer. The person must be shown to be worth at least half the penal sum. The penal sum is twice the estate. Sureties may be jointly and severally liable.
Formerly, an insurance company surety was required in all cases. This former general requirement has been dispensed with and is required only exceptionally. Trust corporations, banks and insurance companies do not require sureties.
The general rules applicable to entitlement on intestacy apply to the grant. Children of a deceased relative may take the share of their parent. This happens most commonly in the case of deceased siblings who died leaving their children who together take the share of their deceased parent.
The Per Stirpes rule applies only if at least one sibling survive. Otherwise, all take equally. The Per Stirpes rule applies only to children and not more remote issue of the —
Relatives of the half blood are treated equally to relatives of the whole blood.
Generally where persons are equally entitled, the first to apply is issued with the grant .Two or three may apply jointly. This commonly occurs and provides a balance and protects against unitlateral contorversial decisions. Representation is not made to more than three persons jointly.
If there are conflicting claims to a grant amongst the members of the same class, a grant may issue to such as the Probate Officer selects having given not less than 21 days notice to have the claimant’s or on an objection to such person as the Court selects. The objection must be made within 21 days.
Parties not Primarily Entitled
In the case of letters of administration, all persons qualified to take the grant in priority must renounce or lose their rights by citation before the next level of persons entitled may apply.
Renunciation does not generally give the person renouncing the right to nominate who should take out a grant of probate. Where a person is entitled to the entirety of an estate under a will or intestacy, he may renounce a nominated person who is entitled to share in his estate but he dies intestate to apply in his place. Where parents are entitled to the entire beneficial interest of the deceased, administration may be renounced in favour of children who are nominated to apply.