Probate & Letters of Administration

You may hear the terms 'Probate' and 'Letters of Administration' when dealing with the Estate of a person who had died. Both these documents are used to prove who the person authorised to administer the Estate is.

 Probate

This is the grant by the Court that recognises a Will as authentic, and authorises the appointment of the executor to act and administer the deceased‘s Estate.

The Executors of the Will will need to obtain Probate from the court, giving them the authority to deal with the deceased person's assets and liabilities, and to enable distribution of the Estate in accordance with the Will. This process involves establishing that it was in fact the maker of the Will who died, that the Will was properly signed and attested, and that Executor(s) have been appointed. To do this, the Executors fill out a Probate application form to be approved by a Registrar of the High Court.

Letters of Administration

If a person dies and either doesn't have a Will or has left a Will that cannot be proven (for example, if the Will's Executor has died), an application for Letters of Administration may need to be made.

The Administrator is appointed by the High Court and the Letters of Administration document states that they have authority to administer the Estate.

Is it always necessary to apply for Probate/Letters of Administration before an Estate can be administered?

No, it may not be necessary to apply for Probate or Letters of Administration if the total value of the deceased’s Estate is less than $15,000 (and doesn’t include ownership of land or an interest in land).

What are the requirements if Probate or Letters of Administration are not required ?

If the total value of the deceased's Estate with Westpac is less than $15,000 at the date of death, then a Deceased Estate Declaration and Claim/Indemnity Form can be completed by an eligible claimant. You'll find this in the Documents & Forms section.

When does the $15,000 value of Estate get calculated?

The need for Probate or Letters of Administration will be calculated based on the value of the Estate at the date of death.

How do I apply for Probate or Letters of Administration?

In order to obtain Probate or Letters of Administration the Executors must apply in writing to the High Court for it to be granted in their favour. Although you’re not required to do so, a Probate application is usually completed through a lawyer, the Public Trust  or a statutory Trustee Company because all the documents must be filed and completed according to Probate law and practice.