What is Probate?
When a person dies their estate (money property and possessions they have left behind) passes to the people named in his or her Will and if there is no valid Will it passes to his or her next of kin. However in order to get the legal right to distribute that estate to those people entitled to it (including paying any inheritance tax due, paying off the deceased debts, paying for the funeral etc. ) somebody will usually need to obtain a legal document called a Grant of Representation or probate as it is more commonly known.
There are three types of Grant of Representation :
If the deceased has a Will the executor/s named in their Will may need to apply for a 'grant of probate' confirming they have the right to access funds, sort out finances, and collect and share out the deceased person's assets as set out in the will. This is called 'administering the estate'.
2. Letters of Administration (With Will)
Issued when there is a Will but there is no executor named or when the executors are unable or unwilling to apply for the grant.
3. Letters of Administration
Issued when the deceased has not made a Will, or any Will made is not valid. Known as 'dying intestate' a close relative of the deceased can apply to the probate registry to grant them the permission to deal with the estate. If the grant is given, they are known as 'administrators' of the estate. Like the grant of probate, it is a legal document which confirms the administrator/s have the authority to deal with the deceased person's assets.
The distribution of the estate is the responsibility of the person named in the grant.
Is a grant necessary?
A grant will always be required to sell any property or land held in the deceases sole name or registered as 'tenants in common’. Also organisations holding money in the deceased’s name may request to see the grant to prove that the person named in it may collect the money.
Other situations when a grant is almost always needed:
When the person who passes has left more than £5,000
Stocks or shares
Certain insurance policies
A grant may not be required :
If the estate is small (some organisations such as insurance companies and building societies may release the money to you at their discretion ) i.e. The person who passes has left less than £5,000
If the whole of the estate is held in joint names and passes automatically to the surviving spouse/ joint owner, for example a savings account
If the estate doesn’t include land, property or shares
How do I apply?
You can :
Ask a solicitor to apply for the grant of representation on your behalf
Visit GOV.UK for information
Call Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline on 0300 1231072, Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00
click here to schedule a FREE consultation. We are happy to advise and can act on your behalf for a significantly lower cost than a solicitor would charge to achieve exactly the same outcome.