What is an Administrator in Probate?

10 July 2019

If someone dies without a valid Will in place then inheritance law will determine who has the authority to wind up their affairs and administer their Estate. The person who undertakes this role is called the Administrator.

When a loved one dies, it is often necessary for someone to dispose of their assets and settle any liabilities, and a legal document may be needed to carry out this work. This process is referred to as Probate and the umbrella term for the individual who carries out this work is the 'Personal Representative.'

Where a loved one dies with a valid Will, they will have chosen who they would want to act in this capacity. The person they appoint is called an Executor and their authority to administer the Estate is set out in the terms of the Will.

However, where a loved one dies intestate (without a valid Will) the Rules of Intestacy will determine who can deal with the administration of the Estate. The person appointed under these circumstances is called an Administrator and will generally be the person first in line to benefit from the Estate.

Who Can Be an Administrator?

An Administrator must be someone over the age of eighteen, must not have been bankrupt or have any other special circumstances that would prevent them from acting in this way. Otherwise they will be passed over to find the next person who is entitled to act as an Administrator according to the Rules of Intestacy.

Authority to Dispose of Assets

Being entitled to act as an Administrator is not the same as having the authority to dispose of the deceased loved ones assets. An Administrator's authority to dispose of assets derives from a Court order called Letters of Administration. It is only once this document has been obtained that the deceased's assets can be sold or transferred. This includes any money in their bank accounts or any property owned in their sole name.

There are some situations in which 2 people need to be named as Administrators on the Letter of Administration or the funds need to be paid to a Trust Corporation (such as Co-operative Trust Corporation).

These include:

  • Situations where a beneficiary of the Estate is a minor
  • Situations where someone has a life interest in an asset of the Estate

Who Is Entitled to Inherit?

An Administrator cannot simply select whoever they want to be a beneficiary and they also cannot decide how much each beneficiary is paid. Instead, an Administrator must follow the Rules of Intestacy to determine who they should pay and how much each beneficiary is entitled to receive once all debts of the Estate have been paid.

If an administrator fails to administer the Estate in this way, they could be sued for maladministration. This term means that they have not administered the Estate correctly, or that they have inefficiently or dishonestly administered the Estate.

Getting Help as an Administrator

If you are entitled to act as an Administrator but feel that you cannot take on the task alone, it is possible to instruct a Probate Specialist to help you.

With our Probate Complete Service, our Probate Specialists can take responsibility for the legal, tax and administrative work on your behalf.

This includes:

  • locating and contacting the beneficiaries
  • valuing the Estateliaising with HM Revenue & Customs
  • calculating and paying Inheritance Tax
  • selling or transferring assets, including any property
  • contacting creditors and settling liabilities
  • distributing the Estate in line with the Rules of Intestacy

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