Grant of Letters of Administration


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If the Deceased left no will, then the law provides that the person will have died Intestate. This means that the persons estate will be distributed according to the Intestacy Rules.

Applying for a Grant of letters of Administration

The person who administers the estate is called the Administrator and as such undertakes a very similar role to that of the Executor. To collect the various assets of the estate, a legal document known as a Grant of Letters of Administration must be obtained from the Probate registry. Once obtained this can then be presented to banks and other organisations, enabling the release of the Deceased persons assets. Typically, a Grant will only be required if the assets in question exceed £15,000.

Understanding the Intestacy Rules: who inherits?

Married Couples and Civil Partners

You must be still married to inherit under the Intestacy Rules, this means that if you are Divorced then you will not inherit anything from your former partner under the Intestcay Rules. By contrast if you are seperated from your partner, it is important to appreciate that the Intestacy rules will apply unless the divorce has been finalised eg. the issuing of a decree absolute

If you are married and have no children then the entirety of the estate of your spouse will pass to the surviving spouse. If there are children or Grand-children of the Intestacy Rules then if the estate is under £250,000, the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate. If over £250,000, the surviving spouse will inherit :-

  • • all personal possessions
  • • the first £250,000

The Remaining estate

The Rest of the estate is then divided in half, with half to the surviving spouse and the remainder to the children or the Grandchildren. What is complicated is that the surviving spouse has an entitlement to the interest only on their half during their lifetime. Once the surviving spouse dies, the capital is divided between the children or Grandchildren. An example of how this might work is as follows :-

An Intestacy Example : what happens when there is no will

A husband dies leaving an estate worth £600,000.00 and a wife (or civil partner) and two children. The wife will receive the chattels and £250,000 outright and a life interest in half of the remainder that is £175,000.00. The children will receive £175,000.00 outright to be divided between them equally and they will receive the other £175,000 when their mother (or the civil partner) dies and her life interest comes to an end. You will see that whilst the rule in itself is quite simple to understand in practice it can cause difficulties.

For example in the scenario just set out if the house which forms part of the estate of £600,000.00 is worth £400,000.00 it is not possible either to find enough money to give the wife her statutory legacy of £250,000.00 let alone find half of the remainder to invest on her behalf for her lifetime or the £175,000.00 which is due to the children outright. The family face a dilemma because the only way the rules could be followed is for the house to be sold and they may not want this or be in agreement over this course of action. Whilst selling the house is the ultimate legal solution and the ‘correct’ course of action it can be seen what difficulties this could cause. This why a will is always so important.

If the deceased died leaving a spouse but no children or grandchildren but the parents of the deceased are still alive

The spouse or civil partner gets the chattels and a statutory legacy of £450,000.00 and half of the remainder outright. The parents get the other half of the remainder outright but if they have not survived the deceased but the deceased had left sisters or brothers they will share the other half of the remainder.

If in any of the cases above, there are children of a person who are entitled to a share but they are under the age of eighteen then their share is held in trust for then until they reach the age of 18 or marry below that age. Also if a child of the intestate died during the lifetime of the intestate but left issue themselves then the issue take the parents share in equal shares if there is more than one.

What happens if you are adopted: do you inherit from your adopted parents ? if they die without a will

If you are adopted then your entitlement arising under the Intestacy Rules arises from your Adopted parents and not your blood line.

If you need help obtaining probate when there is no will we have a specialist team that handle these types of estate on a fixed fee.

Call our PROBATE HELPLINE 0844 330 2672 or send an enquiry

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