Information on Grant of Probate & Wills
After someone dies you may hear all kinds of legal terms you have never come across before. Probate may be one of these. The term probate is the process of officially proving the validity of a will and the winding up of affairs.
Regardless of whether there is a will or not, someone has to deal with the estate and a legal document may need to be issued to authorise one or more people to do this.
A person authorised in the will to manage the estate is called the executor. They will be issued a document by the Probate Registry known as a Grant of Representation (Probate).
There are two other types of grant. If there is a will but no executors are named or people named do not wish to apply or be involved, the Probate Registry issues Letters Of Administration (with will). If there is no will or the will is not valid then a Letters of Administration is issued.
The executor needs the Grant of Representation to be able to access the money and assets of the deceased person. It is proof that the person named is entitled to manage the assets and liabilities of the estate. Some organisations will release funds and assets without a Grant of Representation but with large amounts it is usually needed. You need a Grant to transfer or sell property held in the sole name of the deceased. If it is in joint names a Grant may not be needed.
The first people entitled to a Grant are the named executors in a will. If there are no executors or they don’t want to apply then the person named in the will who gets all of the deceased’s estate is next in line. If there is no valid will, the next of kin can make an application for Grant of Representation in this order of priority: spouse, daughter/son, parent, sibling, close relatives. You must be over 19 to apply.
To obtain the Grant of Representation you need to fill in an application form and return it with a death certificate and original will. You will then be interviewed in person to confirm the details in the application. After the interview the Grant will be prepared by the probate registry and sent to you by post or if a Grant can’t be given you will receive an explanation.
A solicitor can apply for Grant of Representation (probate) and deal with the estate on your behalf and usually charges about £100 per hour and 1% of the estate. If you choose to do it alone then you will have to pay a fee of £130 and deal with any inheritance tax issues. Any tax must be paid before probate is granted and before the Will can be administered.
You can find comprehensive probate information here.