Succession refers to the bundle of property and rights which pass from a deceased person to his heirs under his will or by operation of law. The law of succession concerns itself with the rules governing successions.
If the deceased person did not leave a valid will his succession is called an intestate succession. If he died leaving a will his succession is called a testamentary succession.
An intestate succession will be distributed to the persons who the law designates as your heirs. When you leave a will your property is distributed in accordance with the wishes that you have expressed in your will.
In some countries the courts have the power to make reasonable financial provision for certain persons who have not been sufficiently provided for in a will. This is not the case in Saint Lucia. A testator is free to dispose of his property however he wants and the courts will respect his wishes.
Whether someone dies intestate or leaves a testamentary succession there must be another who takes the responsibility of managing the succession of the deceased. Such a personal is called a personal representative.
In a will the personal representative is called the executor. If the deceased left no will the personal representative is called the administrator of the succession of the deceased.
Probate is the name given to the procedure whereby, following the death of the testator the executor of a will applies to the court for an order that the will is valid. This order is called a grant of probate.
Someone who wishes to administer an intestate succession will apply to the court for a grant of letters of administration. An executor’s authority is derived from the will and a grant of probate merely confirms that authority. On the other hand the grant of letters of administration is what confers authority on the administrator.
If you are thinking about applying for letters of administration or you have have concerns about the way that a succession in which you have an interest is being administered you should seek legal advice. You should also see a lawyer when the testator dies if you are the executor of his will.