This is a document which allows a deceased person’s Next of Kin (closest relative or spouse/civil partner) to distribute their assets when they have died without a will or executor (a person selected to distribute their assets). The relative must apply to the court to gain this document and with this document they are granted the legal rights to access the accounts and other assets of the deceased to manage and distribute them.
The main circumstances in which a Letter of Authority must be applied for are the following:
Firstly, you must be entitled to apply for a Letter of Authority. There are rules regarding who can apply to be an administrator and list of which types of relationship take priority in gaining a Letter of Authority. The rules differ based on whether there is a will, if you are looking to gain a letter of Authority this is the first thing to establish.
If there is a valid will, you can apply for letters of administration if:
If there is no will or no valid will and you are the Next of Kin of the deceased, you are able to apply to be an administrator. However, there is an order of priority which is as follows:
Once you’ve established whether you fit into one of the categories and are entitled to apply for a Letter of Authority you will then have to fill out the required forms on the government website and submit these. Once your application has been submitted you will need to wait for these to be granted. If successful, the Probate Registry will provide you with a Letter of Authority giving you the legal right to access and organise the affairs.
It is important to know that when dealing with the estate of someone who has died you do not always need to apply for a letter of authority. Needing a letter of authority usually arises when the estate has a property. You may not need to apply for a Letter of Authority in the following circumstances:
It is also important to note that unmarried or unregistered civil partners who have not been named in the will as an executor will usually be unable to act as an administrator. So, if you have a partner who you wish to organise your estate once you die you should consider naming them as an executor of your will otherwise their rights will be limited and will not take priority as family members will.
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