When a person dies intestate i.e. without leaving a Will, no person is allowed under the administration of estate law to administer the estate of the deceased without obtaining Letters of Administration. To do so will amount to intermeddling with the Estate of the Deceased.
The Letter of Administration empowers the persons named therein to administer the Estate of the Deceased. Prior to obtaining the grant of a Letter of Administration on an Estate, the properties of the deceased are deemed to vest in the Chief Judge of the State.
Who can apply for a grant of Letters of Administration?
The Administration of Estate Law of Lagos State, states in order of priority, persons who are beneficiaries of a Deceased Estate and thus can apply for a grant:
1. The Surviving spouse
2. The Children of the deceased or the issues of any child who predeceased the deceased
3. The Deceased’s Parents
4. Brothers and Sisters of the Deceased
5. Half Brother(s) and sister(s) of the Deceased.
6. Grand Parents
7. Uncles and Aunts.
Procedure for Obtaining Letters of Administration
- Apply for Grant At the Probates Registry
1. An Application letter shall be submitted at the Probates Registry. The Application letter shall contain the following information:
1. Full names of the Deceased
2. Date of Birth of the Deceased
3. Last known address of the Deceased
4. The Profession of the Deceased
5. Marital Status of the Deceased
6. Name of Deceased’ spouse and children (if any)
7. Date and Place of Death
8. Names of 2 Proposed Administrators
9. Relationship between the Deceased and the proposed Administrators
The following documents shall be submitted with the Application Letter:
1. Death Certificate of the Deceased
2. Passport photographs and valid means of identification of the Proposed Administrators
- Obtain Application Form from the Probates Registry
After submitting the application letter, an applicant shall purchase an Application Form from the Probates Registry which shall be completed and executed by the Proposed Administrators. The Application Form is made up of the following documents:
1. Inventory of moveable and immovable Bounties/Assets of the Deceased
2. Statutory affidavit of next of Kin. (This is to be signed by the Next of Kin)
3. Oath of Administration
4. Administration bonds
5. Justification of sureties (2 Sureties one of whom one must possess real property while the other must own a valid means of identification shall execute this form). It is also important to ensure that the sureties are available to appear in person when called upon by the Probate Registrar.
6. Bank/Share Certificate (Details of the Deceased’s Bank Account and monies therein and Shareholdings be stated here)
7. Particulars of Freehold/Leasehold property owned by the Deceased.
8. Schedule of debts owed by the Decease
9. Schedule of funeral expenses.
- Submission of Bank/Share Certificate at the Bank(s)/Registrars of the Companies where the Deceased owns Accounts/Shares
1. The Bank(s)/Registrars shall state details of monies/shares and the value thereof.
- Return of Duly Completed & Executed Application Form to the Probates Registry, Payment of Publication Fee, Assessed Fee and Obtaining Approval of the Probates Registrar
1. Upon completion and execution of the Application Form, same will be submitted at the Probates Registry.
2. The Probates Registry will proceed to assess fees payable on the Estate based on the information contained in the Application Form.
3. The Proposed Administrators shall proceed to make payment of Assessed fee and Newspaper publication fee with bank draft at a pre-designated bank and evidence of payment i.e. Bank teller shall be furnished to the Probates Registry.
4. The Proposed Administrators may also apply to the Probate Registry to have the estate assessment fee drawn from the deceased’s account if there are sufficient funds therein.
5. The Probates Registrar shall meet with the Proposed Administrators & Sureties to verify that they meet the requirements to be Administrators & Sureties.
6. The Probates Registrar approves the application and orders the Proposed Administrators to depose to the Oath of administration.
- Publication of Notice of Application for Letters of Administration
1. The application is published in a newspaper to notify anyone interested in the estate of the deceased that a grant of letter of administration has been sought by the Proposed Administrators.
2. Once the publication is done, a period of 21 days will be given for any-one who wishes to contest the application of the proposed administrators to present such contest/opposition.
3. At the expiration of the 21 days, if there are no oppositions, the Probates Registry shall proceed to draft and issue the Letter of Administration.
The entire process of obtaining Letters of Administration of an Estate can be cumbersome and grueling especially for persons not familiar with the process. Chances of being exploited as a result of ignorance are pretty high. It is therefore advisable to seek the services of a Legal Practitioner.
 Section 10 of the Administration of Estate Law Cap. 3 Laws of Lagos State 1994
 Section 49 (1)
This article is written by Betty Tokurah an Associate Counsel with the Law Firm of Argyle & Clover Attorneys at Law
Ed's Note- This article was originally published here.