What is probate

After someone dies someone must administer their estate (any assets, debts or possessions they have left behind). Probate is the process of dealing with the affairs of a person who has died (administering their estate). This involves first applying to the Probate Service for the authority to administer the deceased’s estate.

Applying for Probate

Applying for the authority to administer the deceased’s estate almost always involves obtaining a ‘Grant of Representation’. A ‘Grant of Representation’ is the term used to cover both ‘Grant of Probate’ and ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ which are legal documents granting authority to an Administrator or Executor.

This is because the relevant authority holding the deceased’s assets such as the bank or building society will not transfer control of the assets without the sight of the relevant Grant of Representation. However if the estate is small you may find that a smaller company or organisation will release the funds at their discretion upon sight of the death certificate. For a fee you can have your solicitor apply for probate on your behalf or you can complete the relevant forms yourself which are available from HMRC.

Alternatively if you are named as an executor in the will but do not wish to (or cannot) apply for Probate you can appoint someone else to apply for it (other than your solicitor). This involves the person you have appointed (called an ‘Attorney’) filling in the relevant form and sending it to the Probate Registry together with a signed letter from yourself explaining you are giving them permission to apply for Probate.

Grant of Probate

If you are an executor in the deceased’s will you will need to apply to the Probate Service for a legal document called a ‘Grant of Probate’. This confirms you have the right to deal with the deceased’s affairs. You can then use it to sort out the deceased’s finances and distribute assetsin accordance with the will.

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For more information on:

  • Grant of Letters of Administration
  • Inheritance Tax (IHT) when applying for Probate
  • Probate Scams