The technical name for the person who takes on the role of administering an estate is the ‘legal personal representative’ because they personally ‘represent’ the deceased in the administration of the estate.

That representative can be called different names, depending on how they were appointed. If they were appointed because they were named under a will, they are called an executor. If they were appointed in any other way, they are called an administrator.

If someone has died leaving a will, then usually the will names an executor, or a few – jointly, or in a specific order – to cover the bases in case the first named executor can’t or won’t take on the role.

If someone dies without a will, this is referred to as “intestacy”. To determine who should administer the estate in this circumstance, the legislation in each State or Territory provides an order of priority for people who could then apply to be appointed as administrators of the estate.

In Queensland, the following people can apply to the court for letters of administration on intestacy, in descending order of priority:

  1. Spouse (husband or wife, civil or de facto partner, including same-sex partner);
  2. Children (including biological or adopted children);
  3. Grandchildren or great-grandchildren;
  4. Parent/s;
  5. Brother/s and sister/s;
  6. Grandparent/s;
  7. Uncles and aunts;
  8. First cousin/s; and/or
  9. Anyone else the court may appoint.

So, if a spouse wishes to apply, then children or parents will not be able to apply because the spouse has higher priority. However, any one person with equal priority can make the application so that if there are several children, all or any can apply. And if a person with a higher priority is ineligible because of incapacity, or if they choose to renounce their position, then the next entitled person can instead apply.

Taking on the role and responsibility of executor of the Will or administrator of the estate can be burdensome. If you have been appointed executor or are considering taking on the role of estate administrator, click here to read about the roles and responsibilities of a personal representative BEFORE you take on the role.

If you need help working out what steps to take next where there is no will we are here to help. Contact us by phone or email, or click here to arrange your complimentary 15 minute call.

We have tried to keep legal jargon to a minimum on this website and in our blogs, but we have included an easy to understand glossary to help you better understand the legal terms you might see along the way.

Zinta Harris

Meet Zinta

Founder and Principal of Resolve Estate Law. Accredited Specialist Business Law (Qld) and Accredited Specialist Succession Law (Qld). TEP Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

I am Zinta Harris. I live in Brisbane, Australia with my husband of 25 years, Craig (known by most as Harry) and our two children Teja and Zigi. I am a specialist wills and estates lawyer by day and inspiration seeker by night. I help Australian families navigate the legal fallout after the loss of a loved one in a calm and compassionate way.

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