In what circumstances will a Court refuse to re-seal a grant of Letters of Administration from another state?
I was interested to read a recent decision of the Supreme Court of South Australia in which the Court refused to re-seal a grant of Letters of Administration from Victoria (“the Grant”). The Supreme Court upheld the registrar’s discretion to refuse to re-seal the Grant on the basis of a need for uniformity.
The Background of the case is as follows:
- Mr GAT died with an informal Will.
- Mr GAT’s partner, Ms SV, obtained a grant of Letters of Administration with the Will from the Supreme Court of Victoria. The grant referred to Mr GAT as “Mr. GAT (in the will called JT) also known as JAT”.
- Mrs SV later applied to the Supreme Court of South Australia for the re-sealing of the grant of Letters of Administration with the Will to distribute Mr GAT’s property in South Australia. This registrar refused this application.
- The Court provided a memorandum stating that the form of the original grant was not in a form the Court would accept. The use of the words “in the will called” and “also known as” was contrary to the Probate Rules 2004 (SA). The appropriate term is “otherwise”.
- Ms SV appealed this decision.
What did the Judge Consider?
- The Judge summarised that as general rule, a grant of administration in Victoria confers no authority over the assets in any other jurisdiction.
- Mrs SV argued that the findings of a court in one jurisdiction are to be given “Full faith and credit”. It was further argued that this goes beyond accepting its existence but “accept and abide by its contents”.
- The Judge found that it is at the discretion of the registrar whether or not to re-seal the grant.
- However the Judge did consider that discretion of the registrar is to relieve the applicant of further proving facts that have already been proven in other jurisdictions. It is also to avoid undue expense to the estate.
What did the Judge Decide?
The Judge found the registrar did not err in refusing to re-seal the documents. It was at the discretion of the registrar to uphold the importance of uniformity. The Court did find that Mrs SV could apply for an original grant, and directed that a Grant of Probate be made within the Supreme Court of South Australia.
I am an Administrator of an Estate and there are real property assets interstate. What should I do?
If you are concerned your grant of Letters of Administration will not be re-sealed, I strongly recommend you consult an experienced administration solicitor. Please contact me should you require any further advice or assistance.