Duncan Lewis

Family Law

know matters can be both

highly sensitive and confusing

One who is named the executor in a will would need a grant of probate to deal with the estate of deceased person.

Date: (16 January 2013)    |    

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What is Probate?
Though most of you might know a probate as something to do with a will but it has a very specific meaning. It means the rights bestowed upon a person in a will to deal with a deceased person’s affairs.

A ‘grant of probate’ is a document that shows the executor is legally able to deal with a deceased person’s property, money and possessions. It allows them to obtain and share out a person’s assets as set out in their will. The will might have different tasks set out for the executor to complete such as a piece of valuable could be willed to be given to a person and some other valuable could go to some other person.

In the same will different bequeathing could take place benefiting various people- family or friends or relatives. All the wishes set up in the will has to be executed by the executors but before that they would need to be granted a probate first.

It sounds simple, but you don’t always need a grant of probate when a person dies – even if they do leave a will. The situation is even more complex if the person doesn’t leave a will.

When to seek a grant of probate
If someone dies without leaving a will (intestate) then a relative can apply to the probate registry seeking powers to deal with their estate. In case their applications are successful they are granted letters of administration’ which can be used a probate to access the deceased person’s funds and assets.

Grant of probate is needed when a deceased person leaves stocks or shares, property or land, in their own name or as a joint owner and if there are certain insurance policies.

In these cases, the relevant banks or institutions will only transfer control of assets to an executor if they have a grant of probate or letters of administration.

When grant of probate not needed
When a deceased person has left less than £5,000 or their whole estate passes automatically to a surviving joint owner then a probate is not needed. But an executor would still need to write to each relevant institutions informing them of the death and enclosing the death certificate which allows them to obtain the assets but sometimes a grant of probate or LoAs may still be needed.
If there are more than one executor named in the will one of them could apply for a grant of probate or four could make a joint application and act together.
Most people ask a probate solicitor to apply for the grant on their behalf which would be the easiest way to do it.