You don’t know what people are suffering until you visit the Probate registry to see the stress, they go through just to get Letters of Administration to enable them access their deceased loved one’s fund or estate. Apart from the vulnerability the deceased’s death has exposed them to, they also become vulnerable to fraudulent agents (who offer rock-bottom prices wrapped with hidden charges) hanging around the court. Some of them must have committed their scarce resources and struck a deal only to find out later that there are more financial requirements or hurdles to cross for them to get this said “Letter” they had thought could just be written by their Lawyer. When they become overwhelmed with whole rigours, stress, frequent coming-and-going, cost and insults, you see them abandon the process and the deceased’s hard-earned money to the financial institutions.

I have therefore put down the answers to some of the most frequent questions people ask me on daily basis.

1. What is Letters of Administration?

A Letters of Administration is a document, issued by the State government’s judiciary through the Probate Registry, authorizing two, three or four relatives of a deceased person to administer, use and distribute the deceased person’s Personal Properties. Another name for it is Letters of Testamentary. A Letter is not the same with a Letters of Administration.

2. Who can apply for Letters of Administration without Will in Nigeria?

Getting a Letters of Administration requires a minimum of two people and a maximum of Four who are related to the deceased. The following relations of the deceased are entitled (in their order of priority) to Letters of Administration: Surviving spouse, Children/ grandchildren, Parents, biological brothers or sisters (or the children of such biological brother or sister of the deceased who died during the lifetime of the deceased), Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles, Creditors, or a court appointed Administrator-General. The general law is that priority for grant of Letters of Administration shall be given to spouse and children of the marriage. However, where the deceased married many wives and all had children for him, to avoid the estate administration process snow-balling into a fight, the first child of each woman in such marriage will be nominated/ appointed to represent his or her other siblings through a Consent Letter to be signed by all members of the family with their respective passport photographs attached.

3. Can I apply for Letters of Administration online (online Probate application)?

Yes, applying for probate online or for Letters of Administration online is very possible. Go to www.probate.lagosjudiciary.gov.ng

4. I obtained Letters of Administration but one of the Administrators died, can I continue as a sole Administrator?

No, you cannot. You must approach the High court to grant you an Order to amend the Letters of Administration, to remove the name of the dead administrator and substitute him or her with a living person.

5. What is the cost of getting Letters of Administration in Nigeria? In Lagos State, Let’s calculate?

Application fee/Form fees   N10,000 –

Publication fee                        N7,000  –

Estate Fees
It’s a little above 10% Estate fee for monies in bank or Shares, but   less than 2% for only monies in Pension. It is not exactly 10% as most people think. For real Estate (Land or building), valuation/assessment is usually based on the location of the Property. A property in Ikorodu cannot be valued same with that in Victoria Island. I will write another Article on how to calculate Estate Fees in Lagos State.

Two Sureties
It is better you get relatives with evidence of landed property in Lagos State to stand as Sureties for you. Cost of getting paid Sureties ranges from N50,000 per Surety.

Legal Fees
Legal fees ranges from 5 to 20% (depending on the size of the Estate, the contentious or non-contentious nature of the Estate, and a lot of other factors)

6. How can I challenge Letters of Administration?

If the Letters of Administration has been granted already, the process for challenging it will be to go to court to nullify the said Letters of Administration. But if it still being processed at the Probate, then you can challenge it by entering a Caveat through Probate Form 4.

7. The deceased died in another State but I live in Lagos State. Can I still process Letters of Administration in Lagos State?

Yes, you can but only on one condition which will be deciphered and determined by the facts of your case.

8. I am married under the Act and under native Law and Custom but because I have no child, my husband’s family has initiated the process of Letters of Administration without involving me. What can I do?

You sure need a Lawyer to fully protect your interest as soon as possible. Even though your marriage with your deceased husband did not produce a child, that Marriage Certificate in your possession is considered under the Law to be an indicator that your late husband intends everything he has to go to you, to the exclusion of every other member of his family. This right to “own all” is however not available to the woman who is married only under native law and custom but has no children, especially where the deceased’s parent(s) is/are still alive. If the marriage produced children, it will be an entirely different case.

9. Can a Registered Trustee, in conjunction with beneficiary of a deceased person, be granted Letters of Administration in Nigeria?

No. he or she cannot be granted Letters of Administration because he/she is not a relation of the deceased.

10. Can an incorporated Trustee be granted Letters of Administration together with a member of a deceased’s family?

Well, no is the answer. However, if he/she can prove that the deceased was indebted to the Organization and the deceased’s family are not objecting to the fact but are willing to include him/her, that will suffice. Remember that creditors are also entitled to Grant of Letters of Administration.

11.What is the difference between Letters of Administration and Probate?

Letters of Administration indicates that the deceased died without having a Will while Probate indicates that the deceased died having a valid Will. Letter of Administration confers authority on the Administrators to administer the real and personal property of the deceased but Probate confirms the authority (given by the deceased through his/her Will) of the executors to administer the deceased’s estate. There are many other differences.

12. I cannot afford the services of a lawyer now, is there still hope for me to get Letters of Administration?

Yes, there is if you can take advantage of the contingency fee arrangement. In this arrangement, the Solicitor bears all expenses and get paid after the Letters of Administration is successfully obtained or when the monies are finally pushed out.

13. We do not reside in Nigeria but can Letters of Administration be granted to us without we coming over to Nigeria to process it ourselves?

Yes, you can be granted Letters of Administration only if at least one proposed administrator resides in Nigeria. Arrangement can be made for your online interview. Remember that only one person cannot be granted administration of a deceased person’s estate.

14. How much will it cost me to get a Will instead since Letters of Administration is cumbersome, stressful and more expensive?

Unless the deceased had a valid Will, you cannot create a Will for the deceased after his/her demise because he/she must be alive to sign it. The essence of Letters of Administration is because the deceased died intestate (leaving no Will behind). Therefore, Letters of Administration is the only legal document you may need in this instance to deal with the Estate of the deceased. However, if you want an online estate planning or want to make your Will online in order to avoid the stress associated with getting Letters of Administration, you may subscribe to our FREE SIMPLE WILL services, which is basically for monies in bank and/or monies in Pension. If you have a pension, you sure need this Will service anywhere in Nigeria.

Inbox us if you need one. However, if your assets include landed properties and buildings, you will need a more elaborate Will.

15. Can I apply for Letters of Administration immediately a person dies?

No, you cannot. In Lagos State, you will have to wait for 14 days from the date of the person’s death to pass before you can apply for Letters of Administration. But if it is Probate, you will wait for just 7 days to pass before applying.

16. What will I do if during the process, one of the Administrators refuses to continue and to conclude the process for the grant of Letters of Administration?

You may apply to the Probate to remove the unwilling or unavailable administrator and substitute a new administrator to continue the process.

17. How long does it take to get Letters of Administration?

 It takes within 4 to 6 months to get Letters of Administration. Any promise of a shorter duration is a pure scam. Don’t believe them. Grant of Probate on the other hand can be obtained within 3 months after the reading of the Will because it does not require Publication, objection period and two Sureties like Letters of Administration does.

18. I just lost my loved one and was told by the bank to get Letters of Administration, what if I don’t have the money to pay for the Estate fees, how can I be helped?

You don’t need to worry. The Estate Fees will be deducted from the deceased’s bank account. This is not applicable to monies in Pension or Shares. However, if the deceased’s bank account is a Fixed Deposit account, the bank will refuse to deduct the Estate fee. But you can contact us for further necessary financial assistance only for the payment of the Estate fees please.

19. Can I apply for Letters of Administration by myself?

Sure, you can! But remember that a complicated road you have not travelled before will require guidance if you will want to successfully reach your destination.

20.  What is the procedure for getting Letters of Administration in Nigeria?

Okay, just follow the steps and requirements I just outlined below:

Prepare an Application Letter addressed to the Probate Registrar (either in Ikeja or Lagos) and containing the following details:
– Full names and address of the deceased
– Date of death of the deceased
– Place of residence of the deceased shortly before his death
– Full names and addresses of the proposed administrators.

2. The Application Letter shall be accompanied with the
– Death Certificate of the deceased
– Passport photo of the deceased
– Passport photos of all the proposed administrators
– ID Cards of all the proposed administrators
– Phone numbers of the administrators, beneficiaries and close relation of the deceased (which may be either father, mother, brother or sister)

3. Upon uploading all the above documents and information, you will download and print the following Forms, together with the Payment Invoice:
1. Application for a Grant of Letters of Administration (Without Will).
2. Oath for Administration (Without Will)
3. Administration Bond (Without Will)
4. Inventory
5. Particulars of Freehold/Leasehold Property Left by Deceased
6. Declarations as To Next-Of-Kin
7. Schedule of Debts Due by The Deceased

4. The Bank Certificate will be given to you after you have paid for the Form Fees.

5. Gather all the assets of the deceased (both movable and immovable), get the balance standing to the credit of the deceased stamped on the Bank Certificate and resubmit for assessment.

6. Pay all the Estate Fees.

7. Book for an interview at the Probate Registry to confirm that the information you provided the Court and the Probate is true.

8. Publication would be made in the Newspaper or the Gazette in order to allow the public or any interested person the opportunity to object and file a caveat to the Grant of Letters of Administration to the applicants.

9. If after 21 days no objection is raised, the file will go for Minute and Order at the Probate Judge’s office. It can take up to 6 weeks for the file to come back from Minutes and Order (M.O)

10. Then if every information in the file is okay and there are no complications attached to the file, then the Letters of Administration will be granted and issued to you within one month.


  1. Olujimi Joseph

    Good morning,
    I really commend the effort you have put in to get this piece together. This is very enlightening.

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