Scroll for more

removal of estate administrator administration lawyers queensland brisbane

Removal of Estate Administrator

I recently read the Queensland Court of Appeal decision of Pierpoint v Liston [2012] QCA 199, in which the Court had to decide whether to revoke Letters of Administration granted to the deceased’s mother. The decision highlights the importance of having a valid Will to avoid challenges to your Estate.


  • The deceased died in a car accident leaving 2 children.  She did not have a will;
  • The deceased’s mother made an application to allow her to administer the estate, which was granted;
  • The deceased’s de-facto partner disputed this appointment and appealed the decision;
  • The de-facto partner asked the Court to remove the deceased’s mother as the “estate administrator and trustee” on the basis that he held priority over the deceased’s mother and also as the father of the 2 children;
  • The de-facto partner also argued that the mother’s behaviour had amounted to actionable misconduct as she had used estate funds to pay for travel, accommodation and the purchase of land.

The Issues to Consider

1. Entitlement to Administer Estate

The order of priority for a person to be “entitled” to administer an estate when there is no Will, is as follows:

  • Surviving spouse;
  • Children;
  • Parents;
  • Anyone else the Court may appoint.

The definition of “spouse”, includes “de-facto spouse”. For a relationship to be considered “de-facto”, the law says that the couple must have “lived together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis for a continuous period of at least 2 years    ending on the deceased’s death.”

In determining this, the Court will consider the couple’s circumstances, including the  nature of their common residence, whether or not a sexual relationship exists or existed and the degree of financial dependence, to name a few.

2. The Relationship between the deceased and the partner

In this case, evidence was produced which showed the relationship was volatile, marked by separations and reconciliations. There was also evidence of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental illness. As a result, the Court was not satisfied that the partner met the definition of a “de-facto spouse.”

3. Conduct of the Mother

The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial Judge that it was not appropriate for the partner to take on the role of guardian for the children and administration of the estate given his mental health and as interests did not coincide with those of children.

As such, the partner requested that the Court appoint the Public Trustee as guardian for the children and estate administrators instead of the deceased’s mother, due to the use of estate funds on travel, accommodation and the purchase of property.

The Court’s Decision

The Court of Appeal dismissed the partner’s application and instead ordered that the Public Trustee assume the role of administrator of the estate and trustee of the estate in place of the mother.

Seek Legal Advice

To avoid challenges against a Will, and disputes about a Will, you the need to consult an experience estate planning solicitor who can advise on any possible challenges to the Estate.

If you require assistance with making a new Will, updating an existing Will, or if you wish to contest a Will, it is important that you obtain experienced advice. Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss the removal of an estate administrator or your estate administration matters.

Share to your network

The information provided in this article is for general information and educative purposes in summary form on legal topics which is current at the time it is published. The content does not constitute legal advice or recommendations and should not be relied upon as such. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, Wills, Estates and Probate Lawyers (WEP Lawyers) cannot accept responsibility for any errors, including those caused by negligence, in the material. We make no representations, statements or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information and you should not rely on it. You are advised to make your own independent inquiries regarding the accuracy of any information provided on this website. WEP Lawyers does not guarantee, and accepts no legal responsibility whatsoever arising from or in connection to the accuracy, reliability, currency, correctness or completeness of any material contained in this article. Links to third party websites or articles does not constitute any endorsement or approval of those sites or the owners of those sites. Nothing in this article should be construed as granting any licence or right for you to use that content. You should consult the third party’s terms and conditions of use in relation to any third-party content. WEP Lawyers disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including liability for negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way. Appropriate legal advice should always be obtained in actual situations.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on everything Wills, Estates and Probate.

Written by—

Chloe Kopilovic

Call 07 3035 4077 to speak with our team now