Common Questions on Special Letters of Administration in Probate Proceedings

Wood Law Group discusses about special letters of administration in probate proceedings and what is it about. Learn more.

What Does Administration Mean in Probate?

Many Americans go to their grave without an estate plan. The aversion to estate planning is understandable, as no one likes to be reminded of death or misfortune. Nevertheless, avoiding the inevitable will not make it any less certain. 

Hence, it is essential to make adequately prepare for what becomes of your estate when you are no longer around. If you wish to be proactive and settle your affairs while still here, you might want to consult with an estate planning attorney.

A person seeking to make such arrangements may do so by making a will. In the absence of a will, the family members and the court ensure that the deceased’s/ decedent’s estate is administered and passed down to the right people.

Administration in probate is simply the organization and settlement of a deceased person’s estate. The process involves:

  • taking care of the deceased’s assets

  • paying up any debts or outstanding taxes

  • ensuring that the estate is distributed to the rightful beneficiaries

The person responsible for settling the estate is known as the administrator.

Who Can Appoint an Administrator?

In cases of intestacy or where there is no will, the administrator is usually appointed by the court to oversee and settle the decedent’s estate. Where the deceased left a will, the executor(s) mentioned in the will usually administer the estate and distributes assets according to the decedent’s instructions.

What Does the Administrator of an Estate Do?

An administrator gathers the deceased’s assets and manages the estate through the probate court. Their duties include:

  • settlement of debts
  • communication to beneficiaries
  • distribution of assets according to the estate plan
  • filing state and federal taxes.

What Are Special Letters of Administration?

Without a will, the process of probate begins when the court issues letters of administration. This document allows you to proceed with all the essential tasks required to move through probate and eventually settle an estate. The administrator of the estate is usually named in the letters.

Special letters of administration, on the other hand, are issued by the court for an estate only in certain circumstances specified under Nevada law. They include:

  • where letters of administration have been granted irregularly

  • where the grant of letters of administration or letters testamentary (where there is a will) has been delayed

  • where an executor, general personal representative, or administrator dies

There are other instances where the court may appoint a special administrator. An experienced probate attorney can provide further insight according to your specific needs and help with other legal proceedings.

What Are the Duties of a Special Administrator?

The primary reason why a special administrator is appointed is to preserve a decedent’s estate from damage or waste. For this reason, the law allows a special administrator to:

  • Take charge of real property and manage it.

  • Institute, take over, and defend legal actions as a personal representative of the estate.

  • Sell any perishable property without seeking the court’s permission.

  • Borrow money or mortgage real property with the consent of the court.

The role of a special administrator is temporary. It ends once the court appoints a substantive administrator or personal representative.

When Do I Need Special Letters of Administration in Probate Proceedings?


Special letters of administration are often used in emergencies or where assets or the estate itself faces damage or depletion. Examples of such instances include:

  • There is no one responsible for paying or leasing any mortgaged real property of the estate.

  • The decedent owned perishable property that should be sold or disposed of as soon as possible.

  • The deceased had started the process of selling real property, and the sale needs to be concluded.

  • The decedent’s assets are valuable and need to be protected from theft.

  • The decedent’s business needs to keep running to remain profitable.

  • There is an unclaimed property of the decedent that needs to be claimed.

  • A family member or possible beneficiary who controls an asset is trying to hide it for their gain.

It is important to note that the Judge has the final say on whether or not a special administrator will be appointed, regardless of the reason for your request. This is why it is essential to engage an experienced probate attorney who knows the requirements of the law and can work to convince the Judge on your behalf.

How Do I Get Special Letters of Administration?

Special letters of administration are not granted randomly. Instead, you would need to petition the court in writing and show why special letters of administration should be granted. To strengthen your case, you need to have the following:

  • A copy of the death certificate to show the court. The funeral home provides the certificate, and you can request extra copies for future reference. The original copy should be filed with your application for the letters of special administration.

  • A copy of the deceased’s will.

  •  Financial documents detailing the assets and liabilities in the estate.

  • A copy of the titles for real property and vehicles.

  • Letters from banks where the deceased had accounts.

  • Certificates of valuations for any assets remaining.

Your petition should be in the legally prescribed form and free of errors. While you can handle the procedure yourself, hiring a skilled probate lawyer could make things a lot easier. Your lawyer can help you navigate the court system and ensure that your case runs smoothly, significantly increasing your odds of success.

What Is a Request for Special Notice in Probate?

The law allows the court to appoint a special administrator or issue special letters of administration without notifying the decedent’s family members or the likely beneficiaries of the estate in question.

request for special notice is given when any person interested in the estate desires to receive information on any matter concerning the estate.

The interested party must make the request in writing. The written request should then be delivered to the administrator or personal representative and filed in court.

Once the request is delivered, it becomes effective. From that moment, the requesting party becomes entitled to receive notification of any document or petition which concerns the estate. Copies of any documents filed should also be sent to the requesting party within two days.

Suppose you are a beneficiary to an estate and feel like information is being kept from you for any reason. In that case, this procedure may be helpful to you. You could contact your probate attorney for further details.

Can Letters of Special Administration Be Used When There Is a Will Contest?


The answer to this question is yes. The court can also grant letters of special administration and appoint a special administrator when an existing will is being contested. This is to prevent dissipation or damage to the estate while the will is being contested.

The application for the immediate appointment of a special administrator where there is a will is made in the same manner explained above, where no will exists.