What is a Grant of Representation?
18 February 2016
A grant of representation is the document you would need to confirm your legal status and ability to deal with the estate of someone who has died. A grant of representationmay be required whether or not the deceased person left a Will, although it is sometimes known by a different name.
If the deceased left a will appointing eExecutors, then the executors will normally apply for a grant of probate to administer the estate. If there was no will, the deceased's next-of-kin apply instead for a grant of letters of administration. The general term for either of these documents is a grant of representation.
The grant of representation proves your authority to administer the estate of someone who has died. The document itself, and sometimes the process of getting it from the Court and using it to administer the estate, can often be referred to as probate.
It is important to know that the probate process is different depending on where you are in the UK. England and Wales have the same rules but Scotland and Northern Ireland have different processes and procedures. For example, in Scotland you may hear reference to a confirmation process. If your relative died in Scotland or Northern Ireland, it would be advisable to speak to a solicitor who can help you follow the correct process in that country.
In England and Wales you can choose whether you would like to use a solicitor to get probate for you, or you can apply for probate yourself. How long probate will take depends on how complex the estate is, and the process, though very similar, also changes if there is no valid Will.
The steps usually include the following:
- Check if there is a will
- If there is a will, identify who the executors are
- Value the estate
- Pay any inheritance tax (IHT) due
- Executors (will) or next of kin (intestacy) apply for a grant of representation
- Sell or encash any financial assets in the estate (e.g. the property)
- Pay any debts owed by the deceased
- Distribute the estate as per the instructions in the will
If there is no will in place, the deceased's next of kin will usually apply to become what is called a personal representative. There is a specific order of entitlement governing who is entitled to apply for the grant of representation if there is no will, starting with spouse or civil partner, then children of the person who died, right through the family, from parents, to aunts and uncles.
Any partner of the deceased who was not married to them or in a civil partnership apply for a grant of representation and if there was no will, they will not receive anything from the Estate regardless of how long they have been together. This demonstrates the importance of making a will as a couple even if you are not married, as this can result in serious financial implications for the surviving partner.
Where there is no will, the rules of intestacy govern the split of the estate, usually between blood relatives. Step-children are not included under the laws of intestacy. If you want to be sure that your partner and step-children are looked after when you die, you should make a will.
Co-op Legal Services can help you with practical, jargon free advice about a grant of representation whether there is a will or not, and we offer fixed fee probate services so you will know exactly how much probate is going to cost before any work starts.
We take full responsibility for getting the grant of probate and dealing with the legal, tax (excluding VAT), property and estate administration affairs when you use our Probate Complete Service.