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Our Wills Team

Elliot Ryan
Senior Associate
Junior Lawyer
Junior Lawyer

What is the difference between Probate & Letters of Administration?

It can be very difficult when someone close to you dies, and the legal work that follows can be overwhelming.

We aim to alleviate the legal pain, by assisting you to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, whichever is appropriate.

A Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, allows the representative of the deceased person to deal with their Estate, either in accordance with the Will or the Administration Act (WA) 1903.

You might wonder, what is the difference between a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration, and when do I apply for one or the other?

 A Grant of Probate is applied for when the deceased left a valid Will, and the Executor/s are willing and able to apply for a Grant of Probate from the Supreme Court.


The process to obtain a Grant of Probate is much more straight forward and painless, but there may be legal pitfalls regardless.

The Supreme Court requires you, as Executor, to dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s and this can be an onerous task, even when the Will is very clear.

For example, if there is even a small tear in the original Will, or unaccounted for staple mark, the Court will likely ask you to address why this happened.

Further, if the word “dementia” is even listed on the death certificate, and the deceased dies shortly after he/she signed their Will, the Court will likely ask you to prove that the deceased had Testamentary Capacity – not General Capacity, but Testamentary Capacity, which is a separate, specific test.

Attention to detail is key, and we can assist you to ensure that you will obtain a Grant of Probate without too many speedbumps and requisitions from the Court.

Letters of Administration

On the other hand, there are a myriad of reasons why you may need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Below are some examples:

    • There is a valid Will, but no Executor able or willing to administer the Estate.

    • The deceased left no valid Will.

    • The Executor appointed by the Will does not live in the jurisdiction, and needs to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration through a Power of Attorney.

    • If you are the Executor of an Estate of a person who was an Executor of another partially administered Estate, your role would be to apply for a Letters of Administration, and to take over administration of both Estates.

    • If the Executor appointed under Will is underage.

The process of obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration can be substantially more complex than obtaining a Grant of Probate, especially where the deceased dies without a Will, with a number of interested parties surviving him/her.

At Butlers, we can:

  • Advise you on your rights to apply for a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration;

  • Prepare the necessary documents on your behalf;

  • Assist you with administering simple and complex Estates;

  • Assist you in making inquiries relating to assets and liabilities of the Estate; and

  • Correspond with beneficiaries of the Estate, on your behalf.

Contact us to discuss Probate or Letters of Administration.