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Probate and Letters of Administration

If a house is owned jointly by two people, and one dies, the house automatically belongs to the other. This cannot be changed by will. If an intestate person who owned a house in her or his sole name is survived by a spouse/domestic partner and children, and the spouse/domestic partner was living in the house at the time of the death, the spouse/domestic partner has the right to live in the house for three months and is also entitled to buy the house within the same time. In other words, as the value of the house will likely exceed $100 000, the surviving spouse/domestic partner must buy from the children their share in the house (that is, half of the balance divided amongst them) in order to continue to live in it. The three month period begins when the letters of administration are granted to the spouse/domestic partner. If someone else is the administrator the time begins when she or he gives proper notice to the spouse/domestic partner.

See Administration and Probate Act 1919 (SA) s 72L.

If the spouse/domestic partner cannot afford to buy out the children's share, she or he can apply to the court to postpone the sale of the house until the children have all turned 18. Another possibility would be for the spouse/domestic partner to make an application under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1972 (SA) for a greater benefit.

Probate and Letters of Administration  :  Last Revised: Tue Jul 4th 2006
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