Guide to Probate and Letter of Administration

Administration of a deceased person’s estates and assets in the event the person dies without leaving a valid Will is governed by the provisions of Indian Succession Act, 1925. To understand the succession procedures, it is essential to know the associated legal jargon.

Probate and Letter of Administration are two different applications filed before the court to commence the transfer or administration of assets or to appoint a representative to administer the assets.


Probate is an application filed before the court to prove the Will of a deceased person in order to verify the document as a valid and true last Will of the deceased. An application for Probate must be applied with the court by the executor named in the Will along with the original Will of the deceased.

Once the application is filed, the court verifies the authenticity of the Will by verifying the legal capacity and mental stability of the deceased person at the time of writing and their adherence to the principles of succession. If no objections are raised, then the probate is granted. With the probate certificate, the executor can distribute and manage the assets as per the terms of the Will.

Though Probate is not mandatory in India, except in the state of West Bengal, municipal limits of the metro cities of Chennai, and in Mumbai, it is mandatory to obtain probate, a probate is essential to preserve the integrity of the Will and the intention of the deceased in scenarios where the deceased possessed a high number of assets and investments or if the Will attracts potential disputes.

Generally, the probate is granted to the executor but in the event where the deceased person has not appointed any executor in his Will, the legal heirs of the deceased can appoint a person as the administrator of the Will, conferring the rights of the executor to dispose of the property and terms of the Will.

Letter of Administration

Letter of Administration (LoA) is a legal document issued by the court appointing an administrator to manage and distribute the assets of a person who died without leaving a valid Will. An LoA is also applied for and issued if the deceased failed to appoint an executor to his Will and the legal heirs could not find any administrator, or if the executor named in the Will is unable or unwilling to do the task.

LoA is an application to the court by a legal heir or an interested party through a petition explaining the need for the administration along with the details of the personal details, assets, and legal heirs of the deceased person.

Court after examining the petition, issues notices to all the legal heirs and potential claimants, providing them the opportunity to contest the petition. Once no objection is raised, the court grants LoA and the appointed administrator has the legal authority to manage and distribute the assets.

It is essential to note that LoA is applied only in those cases where there is no valid Will, or when the executor is unable to act. A probate is sought in those cases where there is a valid Will and an executor and only the validation of the Will is required from the Court.

Disclaimer: The views / the analysis contained therein do not constitute a legal opinion and is not intended to be an advice. Readers of this document are advised to seek their own professional advice before taking any course of action or decision, based on this document.

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