Intestate Estate - Who can take out letters of administration?

When would you to notify the beneficiaries of an estate that you are instructed to assist one of the beneficiaries to obtain letters of administration?
Before applying or once the personal representative has been appoint

Should you obtain consent from all the beneficiaries before acting on the estate?

Rachel Stafford
Rachel Stafford Legal Services

It might be advisable to ask a genealogist company such as Estate Research to check if there is no one else who may have a prior right to take out the grant.

Patrick Moroney
BWL solicitors

Thank you Patrick . We have established who the beneficiaries are, just trying to establish when we are obliged to tell the other beneficiaries that we are acting and have been instructed to assist one beneficiary to apply for letter of administration on behalf of the estate. There are rifts in the family.

I do believe that there is no obligation to tell the others that you are acting for one of those entitled to take out the grant. Certainly in the case I dealt with some years ago where there were numerous beneficiaries entitled, I did not contact them all before the application was made, although some were aware and were quite glad that they were not involved and were just happy to learn that they were inheriting something which they did not expect!

  • Patrick Moroney

  • Bwl solicitors

When applying for Letters of Administration there is no obligation to notify others having an equal right to apply, as there is if leaving power reserved to other executors.

I note you are confident that you are aware of all beneficiaries entitled. I suggest you double-check this by asking all beneficiaries to confirm they are not aware of any omission or error before effecting any distribution.

However, how confident is your client that he has full details of all assets etc? If you choose to contact all beneficiaries before application, you could ask them all to specifically confirm if they are aware of any asset/liability or relevant lifetime gift …

Kevin Mullen

There is no obligation to advise other family members of the impending Grant application, although it might be prudent to recommend to your client that this be done once the Grant has been obtained so that they are all fully aware of the situation. The main consideration is to be sure via documentary evidence that your client and all others are in fact legally entitled – see When is a relative an heir? The intestacy rules explained - for explanations and examples of pitfalls.

Peter Turvey