ADMINISTRATION of the estate of a deceased is of two kinds : (a) with the will annexed; (b) under intestacy. First, with the will annexed; in which case administration is a giant under a will which does not appoint an executor, or where the executor appointed declines to act. The grant is to a legatee, creditor, or other person appointed by the .court. A. legatee has always the first claim to the grant, the next-of-kin having a primel.ficie right only, but generally the person having the most interest under the will has priority. There are various forms of grants of administration, which apply equally in cases with wills and without. The more usual are : by a guardian during minority ; by an agent during absence of principal ; de bonis non, where part of the estate is already administered ; to collect a perishable estate ; and pendente lite, limited to the conclusion of legal proceedings. Under an intestacy is the most usual instance, and occurs where a person dies without leaving a will. Until some person obtains from the court a grant of administration, or as it is called, takes out letters of administra tion of the deceased's estate, it is impossible to collect the assets, pay the creditors, and distribute the property amongst the next-of-kin. The person who obtains letters of administration is known as the administrator, and standing in the stead of the deceased as his legal personal repre sentative, he alone has the right to and can deal with the property. In him all the property, both real and personal, is by law vested. He is the one who executes all deeds, sues and is sued and does all acts necessary in the winding-up of the deceased's affairs. If any person should meddle with those affairs before and without being duly appointed administrator, he becomes an executor de son tort, incurring thereby certain liabilities. If none of the next-of-kin take out letters of administration, a creditor of the deceased is allowed to do so, and it is his duty to administer the estate duly according to law.
In order to obtain administration, application should be made to the Registrar, or District Registrar as the case may be, of the Probate Court, and affidavits filed similar to those on an application for probate of a will. The persons entitled to administer and those entitled to share
in the deceased's estate, with the proportions of their shares, are set out in columns 2 and 3 respectively of the Table of Next-of-Kin. The duties payable are set out in the same Table. Where the net value of the real and personal estate of a man who has died intestate since 1st Sep tember 1890, leaving a widow, but no issue, shall not exceed £500, the same will belong to his widow absolutely and exclusively. But where such net value exceeds that sum, the widow will be entitled to £500 absolutely and exclusively, and has a charge upon the whole estates for that amount, with interest from the death at 4 per cent. per annum until payment, and without prejudice to her interest and share in the residue of her husband's estate remaining after payment of the £500. The charge is to be borne and paid proportionately to the values of the real and personal estates respectively. On the death of any person being, or having been, an officer, seaman, or marine, the money to his credit in the books of, and payable by, the Admiralty, and arising out of effects, arrears of pay, wages, prizes, bounties, and similar allowances, is distributed amongst the relatives entitled thereto, without production of letters of administration ; and so it may be, by direction of H.M. Treasury, in respect of pay or allowances under .i100 due to any deceased person in military and civil service.
In the case of intestates leaving small estates, the officials of the Probate Registry at Somerset House will assist applicants in filling up the papers necessary for it grant.of administration. If the intestate leaves less than £100, and his widow or children reside more than three miles from Somerset House, the Registrar of the County Court in their district will, on their behalf, fill up all necessary papers and obtain the letters of administration. In addition to any stamp duty the fees payable to the Registrar are 5s. for property under £20, and ls. for every £10 over that amount.