6. Wills and Succession – Letter of Administration

Updated on:


When a person dies leaving a valid Will of movables, that Will usually identifies the person to be appointed executor to administer the Testator’s estate. An application is therefore made to the Registrar of Probate for the Will to be registered, and the named person to be appointed under a Grant of Probate. This gives the appointed executor legal authority to administer the estate, pay the debts, call in the assets, and then distribute the estate according to the Testator’s wishes set out in the Will of movables. See Part 5.

If the person leaves no Will of movables or no valid Will on death, it is then necessary to make an application to the Registrar of Probate for Letters of Administration to be granted appointing an Administrator to pay the debts, call in the assets, and then distribute the movable estate according to the Testator’s wishes. In the absence of a Will, those wishes are set out under the Law to be bequests to the surviving spouse and children. If the deceased person leaves no spouse or children then the estate is distributed to the wider family according to the principles of customary and statute law. See Part 3.

The Administrator

The Administrator will normally be the decease’s eldest son, or if no sons, the eldest daughter (Principal Heir) or, where they were childless, their eldest brother or sister. In certain circumstances it can also be a surviving spouse. Advice should be sought from the Judicial Greffe as to who should apply for Letters of Administration.

The Administrator must swear an Oath at the offices of the Registrar of Probate, promising to honestly distribute the estate of the deceased.

The Application

The application procedure and documents to be filed upon application are similar to those set out when applying for a Grant of Probate. See Part 5.

Administering the Estate

The procedure going forward including distribution post appointment again are similar to that of an executor. See Part 5.

No intermeddling without Letters of administration

In short it is a criminal offence to intermeddle absent Letters of Administration. See Part 5.

Death of a minor

In the case of a minor dying, no administrator is necessary if there are no assets at all. Where there are assets, e.g. inheritance or savings etc., then it may be necessary to take legal advice.