Grants of representation

Grants of representation are documents issued by the Supreme Court confirming the authority of those named in them to administer an estate. “Probate” and “letters of administration” are two specific types of “grants of representation” (sometimes referred to as “a grant”). They are of the same effect but are used in different situations.

A grant of probate is sought where there is a will that names an executor/s. It is the official recognition that it is the deceased’s last valid will and gives the executor named in the will the right to administer the estate. An executor’s authority derives from the will and a grant of probate simply confirms that authority. The person/s who take out a grant of probate are referred to as “executors”.

However, a grant of letters of administration (usually either “on intestacy” or “with the will”) is used where a person dies:

  • without a will, or
  • left a will that failed to appoint an executor;
  • left a will containing an ineffective appointment clause (for example, if the executor/s named all predeceased the testator);
  • appointed an executor who is unable to take out the grant and the applicant for the grant is not named in the will. This might occur because the named executor lives out of the jurisdiction or are a minor at the date of their appointment.

Importantly, because there is no document appointing them, their authority derives from the date of the grant.   People who are appointed in such cases are referred to as “administrators”.

Both executors and administrators have the same rights, obligations and duties.

Further reading

Obtaining a grant of probate

Obtaining letters of administration