For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will help you.
When someone dies without leaving a Will you may require a Letter of Administration in order to deal with their Estate. A person’s Estate includes money (held as cash, in investments or bank accounts), property, shares, personal possessions such as their car and any other items that have a financial value. It also includes any debts that they had such as credit cards, loans or a mortgage. This information applies in England and Wales.
A Letter of Administration is a legal document that is issued by the Courts to prove who has legal authority to deal with the Estate of the person that has passed away. This document is called a Grant of Probate if the deceased person left a Will and a Letter of Administration if they did not leave a Will.
Is a Letter of Administration Always Needed?
You might not require a Letter of Administration if the value of the Estate is small. For example some banks allow for accounts to be closed without a Letter of Administration if they do not contain a lot of money. Each bank sets its own limits in regards to this so if you need to close a bank account you should check directly with the bank if they will require a Letter of Administration.
Who Can Apply for a Letter of Administration?
First, it is important to check the deceased did not leave a Will. If there was a Will this sets out who has authority over the Estate and therefore who is allowed to apply for the Grant of Probate. If you are not sure if there was a Will you could try checking with the following:
- Friends and family members
- A solicitors firm used by the deceased e.g. who may currently hold property deeds
- Banks used by the deceased
If there is no Will, there rules in regards to the priority for who is allowed to apply for the Letter of Administration. These are called the Rules of Intestacy. The person that is highest up on this list is always the person that should make the application.
The Rules of Intestacy place relatives in the following order:
- The married partner or civil partner of the person who has died
- The child(ren) of the person who has died (or grandchildren if the child is pre-deceased)
- The parent of the person who has died
- The brother or sister of the person who has died (or their children if they have predeceased)
- The half-brother or half-sister of the person who has died (or their children if they have predeceased)
- The grandparents of the person who has died
- Aunts and uncles of the person who has died (or their children if they have predeceased)
- Half aunts and uncles of the person who has died (or their children if they have predeceased)
- The Crown
Where there is more than one person that is able to apply, for example if the person that has died had more than one child, then each of these is able to apply for a Letter of Administration. This will be granted to the person that makes the first correct application to Court.
How to Apply for a Letter of Administration
To apply for a Letter of Administration you need to have details of all of the deceased person’s Estate as at their date of death. You will need this information to complete the Inheritance Tax returns that need to be made to HM Revenue & Customs.
Calculating Inheritance Tax
The Inheritance Tax form that should be used depends on the total value of the Estate and whether the Estate is being left to the deceased person’s married or civil partner, or to a registered charity.
If the total value of the Estate equals or is less than £325,000 or the Estate equals or is less than £1,000,000 and is being left to a charity or spouse then there is no Inheritance Tax to be paid. In most cases a simple Inheritance Tax form (IHT205) can be completed.
For other Estates, it is likely that Inheritance Tax will be due and a more complicated Inheritance Tax form (IHT400) will need to be completed.
It is a good idea to have a rough idea of the value of the Estate before contacting HM Revenue & Customs. You can then discuss which Inheritance Tax forms you will need to complete and establish if any Inheritance Tax will be due.
What to Include in the Application
When making the application to Court for a Letter of Administration, you will need to provide the original death certificate, the Inheritance Tax forms and the probate fee. This fee is £215 for Estates over £5,000.
The Probate registry will also ask for you to attend an interview in order to complete the legal document, which is called the Oath. The Oath is the official application to Court for a Letter of Administration.
Need Help Applying for a Letter of Administration?
At Co-op Legal Services, we can take care of all aspects of Probate on your behalf. This includes applying for the Letter of Administration, valuing the Estate, calculating Inheritance Tax and liaising with HM Revenue & Customs.
Administering an Estate can be a complex and time consuming process, with a significant level of risk attached. This can be particularly stressful after the death of a loved one. With our Probate Complete Service you can relax in the knowledge that everything will be taken care of for you.
For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will call you.