What Is Probate?

Probate is the term used when discussing the application for the right to deal with someone’s affairs after they have passed away. However, depending on if the person has made a Will or not, two different terms can be used.

Grant Of Representation

If the person who has passed away has a valid Will at the time of their death, they will have named one or more people to act as their executor. It is the executor that will apply for a Grant of Representation, which is more commonly referred to as probate.

It is a legal document which confirms that the person named has the authority to administer the estate. This includes dealing with the deceased person’s assets such as their money, belongings and any property that they own.

Administrator Of The Estate

If the deceased has not written a Will, then their next of kin can apply to the probate registry to become an administrator of the estate. Consequently, the Government will decide who inherits their assets under the laws of intestacy.

When Is Probate Required?

If the person who has passed away has left less than £10,000 and everything was owned jointly then probate might not be required. Due to the joint ownership, commonly for items such as the house and possessions, this will automatically pass to the surviving joint owner.

Most often, probate is required, particularly when the deceased has left more than £10,000, has stocks or shares, owns property (either solely or as ‘tenants-in-common’) or has some form of insurance policies.

Applying For Probate

Before applying for a Grant of representation, any Inheritance Tax that is due may need to be paid. If you pay any funds from your own account, you can claim this back from the estate.

There is an application fee for estates worth over £5,000 of £215, made payable to HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

Once the application has been sent, the probate office will send out an oath, and an appointment must be made to swear the oath. The oath is a promise that the information that has been given is true to the best of their knowledge.

Once the oath has been taken, the grant should arrive in the post within 10 working days. If the grant is not issued, the Probate Office will explain why in writing.

After Receiving The Grant

Once the grant is received, copies must be sent to anyone who holds the person's assets, this could be their bank, financial adviser, insurance company, etc. They should then release the assets to the person who holds the grant.

The Role Of The Executor Or Administrator

The executor or the administrator have a legal responsibility to pay any outstanding debts, before they distribute the estate to any of the beneficiaries. Once the debts are paid, the assets can be given out according to the Will. If there is no Will, then any assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

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