The Interpretation Section, Part 1 of the Administration of Estates Act of Lagos State defines letters of administration with reference to the real and personal estate of a deceased, letters of administration, whether general or limited or with Will annexed or otherwise.
Section 49 (1) Administration of Estates Laws of Lagos state made provisions for the categories of persons that can successfully make an application for a grant of letters of administration. Although the court has discretionary powers to select who in its opinion is more suitable for such grant. These persons are referred to as the next of kin of the deceased.
It is the next of kin of the deceased that are generally entitled to apply for the letters of administration. For the purpose of clarity, the next of kin include;
- Surviving spouse(s) of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- Brothers or sisters of the deceased of full blood or the children of such brother or sister who died in the lifetime of the deceased.
- Brother or sister of the deceased of half-blood or the children of such brother or sister who died in the life time of the deceased
- Grandparents of the deceased
- Uncles and aunts of full blood or their children.
Letters of administration are granted upon application by a person entitled either personally or through his legal practitioner to the Probate registrar. Usually forms are issued to the applicant, to be returned upon completion to the probate registry.
In granting letters of administration, such grants would not be made within three (3) months (for Lagos state) from the death of the testator, particularly where he died intestate and all applications made for the granting of letters of administration are always published to allow for objections and filing of caveat as the case may be.
It is pertinent to note that letters of administration cannot be granted to only one person. It must be granted to at least two or more persons. The only exception to this rule is where the trust corporation or the administrator general is appointed as a sole administrator.
PARTICULARS OF A LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION:
Upon application made to the probate registrar, the letter should contain the following;
1) Application is made to the probate registrar. The letter should contain the following
- Full names of the deceased
- Date of death of the deceased
- Place of residence of the deceased shortly before his death
- Name of proposed administrators
2) The application shall be accompanied with the death certificate.
Upon submission of the application, then forms will be given. Such forms include:
- Oath of Administration by the applicants
- Particulars of landed property left by the deceased
- Administration Bond to ensure that the grantee makes proper inventory, distributes the estate accordingly and pays out of all just debts.
- Affidavit/Declaration as to next-of-kin
- Bank certificate
- Passport photographs of applicant
- Justification for sureties
- Schedule of debts and funeral expenses
3) The forms upon filling them would be submitted
4) Publication would be made in the gazette or newspaper.
This, in essence, is to invite and give the public or any interested person the opportunity to object and file a caveat to the grant of letters of administration to the applicant.
5) Objection may be raised within specified period for filing a caveat.
6) Once no objection, upon the payment of the estate duties, the letters of administration would be granted.
Linda is a Lawyer practicing in Lagos State. She can be reached on 08134449847 firstname.lastname@example.org