What is a Grant of Probate?

27 November 2019

A Grant of Probate is a legal document that may be required to administer the Estate of someone who has died. Once this document has been obtained, the Executors can then deal with all the legal, tax and administrative duties involved in Estate administration.

For free initial Probate advice call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will help you.

Grant of Probate Explained for England and Wales

When someone dies and they have a legally valid Will in place, the Will should name one or more Executors. These are the people who have been chosen to administer the Estate by the person who died. It is these people who will need to establish whether a Grant of Probate is needed. If it is, the Executors will be the people named on this document, and this will grant them legal authority to administer the Estate.

So, if you have been named as an Executor in a Will, the responsibility will usually fall to you (along with any other Executors) to find out if Probate is required or not.

If the deceased didn't leave a legally valid Will, inheritance law will determine the appropriate person to administer the Estate, and this would usually be the next of kin. This person is called the Administrator and instead of a Grant of Probate, they may need to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration. The process to do this is similar to obtaining a Grant of Probate.

Grant of Probate and Grant of Letters of Administration are both also known as a Grant of Representation. The umbrella term used for anyone named in the Grant to manage an Estate is 'Personal Representative' regardless of whether or not the deceased left a Will.

When is a Grant of Probate / Grant of Letters of Administration Needed?

A Personal Representative will sometimes be required to obtain a Grant of Representation for an Estate if:

  • It is worth more than £5,000
  • There are stocks and shares included
  • There is a property or land included

If the deceased didn't own any property or significant assets, and they had less than £5,000 in the bank, then a Grant of Representation usually won't be needed. For more information, see Why Probate is Not Required on a Small Estate.

In some unusual circumstances though, a Grant of Representation might still be required even if the value of the Estate is less than £5,000. The financial institutions with which the deceased held investments or bank accounts all have different rules about when they require a Grant of Representation regardless of the amounts involved. Some will allow you to close accounts of up to £50,000 without a Grant, while others may request a Grant of Representation to access funds of only £2,500.

This does make the process more difficult as there are no set rules to follow. To help, we’ve put together a list of Bank Limits for Probate in England and Wales.

Applying for a Grant of Probate / Grant of Letters of Administration

If the Personal Representative does need to apply for a Grant of Representation, there is a set process that will need to be followed.

The Probate Registry will not issue a Grant of Representation until any Inheritance Tax that is due has been paid. This means that the Personal Representative will first need to value the Estate, calculate the Inheritance Tax that's due (if any) and then liaise with HM Revenue & Customs to arrange payment.

The Personal Representative will also need to complete an Inheritance Tax return. There are two different types of Inheritance Tax Return depending on whether there is Inheritance Tax to pay and/or the complexity of the Estate. In a taxable/more complicated Estate the Inheritance Tax Return will need to be sent to HM Revenue & Customs.

For a simple, non-taxable Estate the Inheritance tax return can be sent straight to the probate Registry, alongwith the following documents:

  • A Statement of Truth completed by the Personal Representative, confirming certain information about the Estate
  • The original Will (if there is one) plus two copies
  • The Probate application fee

If the Inheritance Tax return is being sent straight to HM Revenue & Customs, the above documents will need to be sent to the Probate Registry once HM Revenue & Customs have acknowledged receipt of the Return and/or any Inheritance Tax due on submission of the application.

What Happens Once the Grant has been Obtained?

Once a Grant of Representation has been obtained, the Probate process can continue and all of the other Estate administration tasks can be carried out.

The other duties of the Executor / Administrator may include:

  • Locating and contacting the Beneficiaries
  • Collecting in the deceased's assets
  • Selling or transferring any land or property
  • Settling any outstanding debts on the Estate
  • Distributing the Estate in line with the terms of the Will (if there is one) or inheritance law (if there isn't)

The Probate process involves a lot of detailed administrative work, and can take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete. There are a number of third party organisations that the Personal Representative will need to liaise with during Probate and there are many different processes to be managed. It can be a frustrating and time consuming process, and it's important to note that the Personal Representative can be held personally liable for any mistakes made.

Co-op Legal Services offer fixed fee Probate services, designed to meet your needs and requirements. We can help you with the Probate process if your loved one left a Will or if they died Intestate (without leaving a Will).

Co-op Legal Services offer fixed fee Probate services designed to meet your needs and requirements. We can help you with the Probate process if your loved one left a Will or if they died Intestate (without leaving a Will).

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs*.

We are happy to provide you with free initial Probate advice over the telephone to help you establish if Probate is required on your loved ones Estate. If you decide that you would like to hand over the Probate process to us to manage on your behalf, we will arrange for one of our Probate Consultants to visit you at home or another location of your choice (in England or Wales). We will discuss the circumstances of the Estate and provide you with a fixed fee Probate quotation based on the complexity and value of the Estate.

For free initial Probate advice call Co-op Legal Services on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will call you.

*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

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