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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself > After someone dies > Applying for letters of administration

Applying for letters of administration

This section has information about applying for letters of administration.

You must apply for letters of administration if the deceased died intestate (without a will) or did not name an executor in a valid will, or the executor is unwilling or unable to act.

Icon - alert  You must apply for administration within 6 months from the date of death, unless there is a reasonable explanation for the delay. If you apply after 6 months, you will need to file an affidavit of delay at the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Icon - alert  If the deceased did leave a will and named an executor, the executor will need to apply for probate rather than letters of administration. For more information, see Applying for probate.

    ​​What is letters of administration?

    Letters of administration is a court order made by the Supreme Court of New South Wales which allows the administrator (the person who is appointed by the court) to distribute the assets of the deceased who died without a valid will (intestate), and left assets in New South Wales.

    If the deceased person died intestate in New South Wales and owned assets (not including assets owned jointly with another person) the law determines who will receive the assets of the estate. This is commonly known as the 'rules of intestacy'. ​

    Who can apply?

    A grant of administration will only be made to someone who is entitled to the whole of the estate or to a share of the estate. If the only person entitled to the estate lives outside Australia, a grant of administration may be made to the attorney (under Power of Attorney) of that person.

    The grant is usually made to the deceased's 'next of kin', which is the deceased's closest relative.

    The court may grant administration to:

    • the spouse of the deceased
    • one or more of the next of kin
    • the spouse jointly with other relatives.

    If there is no next of kin or none that are appropriate or willing to apply for the grant, then the Court may grant administration to:

    • NSW Trustee & Guardian, or
    • any other person the court thinks fit.

    A spouse is a person who was either married to the deceased or who was in a 'domestic partnership' with the deceased.

    A domestic partnership is a relationship between the deceased and another person that is a 'registered relationship' or a de facto relationship that has been in existence for a continuous period of at least two years or has resulted in the birth of a child. This includes same-sex relationships.

    A registered relationship is a de facto relationship that has been registered with the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages or a similar registry in another state or territory.

    If there is more than one person entitled to a share of the estate under the rules of intestacy, they can apply jointly for a grant of administration or the person applying should obtain written consent (in an affidavit) from all other people entitled to apply.

    Icon - alert  If you are not sure if you are entitled to apply for a grant of administration, you should get legal advice.

    Icon - alert  If you do not want to apply for a grant of administration, you can request the NSW Trustee & Guardian to act. 

    Searching for the will

    Before you apply for letters of administration, you must carry out a thorough search for the will of the deceased or any document written by the deceased that sets out their testamentary intentions.  

    For more information, see The will.

    What is letters of administration with the will annexed?

    A beneficiary under a will may apply for letters of administration with the will annexed if the deceased had a valid will but:

    • there is no executor named in the will
    • the executor died before the deceased or before applying for probate
    • the executor has renounced probate
    • the executor is unable or unwilling to act, or
    • the executor is outside Australia and has appointed you as their attorney to apply to administer the estate (while the executor is outside Australia).

    If the court grants letters of administration with the will annexed, the administrator must distribute the estate according to the deceased's wishes in the will and not under the 'rules of intestacy'.

    Publishing a notice of intended application

    Before you apply to the Supreme Court of NSW for letters of administration or letters of administration with the will annexed, you must first publish a notice on the NSW Online Registry website. This is also called a 'Notice of intended application'.

    To publish a notice on the NSW Online Registry website you must register an account.

    For more information or to register online, go to the NSW Online Registry website.

    There are fees to publish a notice. If you do not have access to the internet or if you do not own a credit card, you may file the form and pay the fee at the Supreme Court registry in person or by post

    Before you publish the notice on the NSW Online Registry website, you will need the following information:

    • the full name of the deceased
    • the last address of the deceased
    • the death certificate
    • an address where notices can be sent.

    Icon - sample/instructions  Sample online Notice of Intended Application (Form 116) - Administration

    Once you have published your notice you have to wait at least 14 days.

    Icon - alert  If you have made a mistake after the notice has been published, you must contact the Supreme Court of New South Wales to correct it. You may need to re-publish your notice.  You will need to wait another 14 days from the time the notice has been corrected before you can file your application.

    Making an application for letters of administration

    After you have published the notice of intended application on the NSW Online Registry and you have waited at least 14 days, you can apply to the Supreme Court of NSW for letters of administration.

    To apply for letters of administration you will need to file the following documents in the Supreme Court of NSW:

    • Summons for Letters of Administration (or Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed)
    • draft Grant for Letters of Administration (or Grant for Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed)
    • Affidavit of the Applicant for Administration (or Affidavit of the Applicant for Administration with the Will Annexed)
    • Inventory of Property
    • the original will, if you are applying for Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed
    • Death Certificate.

    If there is more than one person who is entitled to a share in the estate and they are not joint applicants, you also need to file a Consent to Administration for every other person who is entitled to a share of the estate.  If you cannot obtain the consent of the other people who are entitled to a share of the estate you will need to serve notice of your intended application and may need to provide an administration bond to cover the value of their share of the estate. 

    If you are applying for Letters of Administration and the deceased had no de facto spouse, you may also have to file an affidavit that the deceased was not in a de facto relationship. 

    You will also need to pay a filing fee and provide the court with a stamped self-addressed A4 envelope. After you have paid the filing fee and filed your application, the registry will check the application is complete and may send you requisitions by post if additional information is required.

    If your application is complete and correct, the Registrar will make a grant of administration.

    Icon - alert  You must apply for letters of administration within 6 months from the date of death, unless there is a reasonable explanation for the delay. If you apply after 6 months, you will need to file an affidavit of delay at the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

    If you wait more than 6 months before you make an application for letters of administration, the court may require you to publish another notice of intended application.

    Icon: Page with numbered list  Step by step guide: Making an application for letters of administration

    Requisitions from the court

    If your application is incomplete or incorrect, you will receive a letter from the court, called a 'requisition,' which explains the problems with your application.

    You will need to either re-file a form or file a separate affidavit to answer the requisition and attach a copy of the requisition to your affidavit.

    The court will not grant you administration until you have answered the requisition. The court may raise further requisitions if the court is not satisfied with your response.

    Your application may be dismissed if you fail to respond to the requisition or if you do not ask for more time to respond to the requisition.

    Icon - alert  If you do not understand the requisition or if you are not sure how to respond, you can ask the Supreme Court registry or you should get legal advice.

    Icon - sample/instruction Sample requisitions from the court - Letters of administration

    After the grant

    If there are no problems with your application and documents, and after any requisitions are finalised, administration should be granted. You do not need to attend court as the court Registrar will normally do this in Chambers (not in open court). For more information about what to do once administration has been granted, see After Probate or Administration.

    Entitlements under intestacy

    When a person dies without leaving a will they die 'intestate'. Under the rules of intestacy, the surviving spouse of the deceased will receive the whole of the estate unless the deceased has children.

    For more information about who is eligible to receive the deceased person's estate by order of entitlement, see Entitlements under intestacy.

    Case study

    Case study iconCase study - Letters of administration for the estate of the late Stewart Grimson

    Stewart Grimson died on 18 April 20XX. He did not have a will.

    Stewart's de facto partner, Shelly Allbright, died on 10 May 20XX.

    Stewart is survived by his 25 year old daughter, Arya Grimson and his 33 year old son, Rodi Grimson. Rodi is Stewart's sone from a previous relationship.

    Stewart owned a holiday house in his sole name worth $170 000. Stewart also had a personal load debt of $20 000.

    Arya Grimson wants to apply for letters of administration.

    Case study iconCase study - Letters of administration and the will annexed for the estate of the late Stewart Grimson

    Stewart Grimson died on 18 April 20XX. His sole executor, Jack Smith, died before Stewart. 

    Stewart's de facto partner, Shelly Allbright, died on 10 May 20XX.

    Stewart is survived by his 25 year old daughter, Arya Grimson and his 33 year old son, Rodi Grimson. Rodi is Stewart's sone from a previous relationship.

    Stewart owned a holiday house in his sole name worth $170 000. Stewart also had a personal load debt of $20 000.

    Arya Grimson wants to apply for letters of administration with the will annexed. ​​​