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Letters Of Administration in Perth

The Supreme Court of Western Australia issues a Grant of Letters of Administration in Perth to confirm a person’s authority to administer the affairs of someone who dies intestate (without making a will). In addition, there are a few other instances when it may be necessary to apply for Letters of Administration in Perth. This article summarises the circumstances that require this particular probate grant and explains the application process.

Letters Of Administration (With Will Annexed) in Perth

Sometimes it is necessary to apply for Letters of Administration (with Will Annexed) even when the deceased has left a valid will. This is necessary when there is no executor to make an application for a Grant of Probate, either because the testator failed to choose a personal representative or because the named executor is incapable or reluctant to assume responsibility. In that case, the executor will have to renounce the appointment, and the court will grant Letters of Administration to an appropriate person so that he or she can administer the deceased estate according to the terms of the will.

Letters Of Administration in Perth

More commonly, the court will issue Letters of Administration in Perth when the deceased passed away before making a valid will. In cases of intestacy, an administrator obtains Letters of Administration in order to distribute the estate in line with the rules of succession contained in the Administration Act 1903.

In Perth, the law establishes that the next of kin should inherit the deceased estate, with the exact distribution depending on the size of the intestate estate. Specifically:

  • If the estate is worth less than $50,000, then the spouse or legally recognised partner inherits everything, including all the household chattels;
  • If the estate is valued at more than the threshold amount, then the estate is shared between the spouse and any children. The spouse receives the chattels, the “spousal portion” of $50,000 and either one-third of the remainder if there are several children, or half of the remainder if there is only one child.

There are also allowances for the parents or siblings of the deceased to inherit in the absence of any spouse or children, and depending on the value of the estate. Only when it is not possible to locate any close relatives to inherit does the intestate estate revert to the state.

Who can apply for letters of administration in Perth?

The court will usually grant Letters of Administration to an applicant who is entitled to inherit from the estate under the provisions of the Administration Act 1903. The court privileges the closest next of kin to take on the role of administrator, so it is typically the spouse or child of the deceased that will obtain Letters of Administration in Perth.

Applying for letters of administration in Perth

An applicant for Letters of Administration needs to obtain the written consent of all prospective beneficiaries, or provide the court with evidence that all beneficiaries were served with notice of the intention to apply. In the event that one of the beneficiaries are minors, the court will typically require the applicant to take out a surety guarantee before they are appointed as administrator of the estate.

An application for Letters of Administration in Perth will need to include:

  • A motion for a Grant of Letters of Administration;
  • A sworn, witnessed affidavit;
  • An assets and liabilities assessment of the deceased estate;
  • The original will (if available); and
  • The original death certificate.

It may not be necessary for the family of the deceased to apply for Letters of Administration in Perth. Some types of assets, such as jointly held property or bank accounts, pass directly to the surviving owner. Life insurance policies and superannuation benefits often transfer automatically to the beneficiary of a binding death benefit nomination.  In Perth, if a deceased’s bank account holds less than $50,000, the administrator can arrange for the funds to be transferred to the next of kin.  Similarly, the Department of Transport in Perth does not typically require a probate grant to transfer a vehicle to the possession of the deceased’s family. These exceptions help families to wrap up a deceased’s affairs without undue delay, but it must be noted that without a probate grant, the administrator has no protection from personal liability. This means that if a distribution is made and there is later a legal challenge, the person who made the distribution may be personally liable for recovering or replacing the funds.  In these types of cases, it is better to err on the side of caution and obtain authority from the court to make decisions on behalf of the estate.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


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 of working in higher education, Nicola joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2020.

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