What is a grant of probate and when is it required?

Rebecca Mitchell-Smith of Harrison Drury

A grant of probate (or grant of representation) is a legal document that confirms the executors of a will that have the authority to manage and administer the estate of someone who has died, and to distribute assets to its beneficiaries.

It is not always necessary to obtain a grant of probate in an estate. It will depend on the extent of the estate, what it comprises and how assets are held (whether in sole name or jointly with other people). It is sometimes needed to access bank accounts or sell or transfer assets.

A grant of probate is required if the deceased held an interest in property in their sole name or held the interest jointly in a property with another person as ‘tenants in common’.

Depending on how much money is held, whether it is within several financial institutions and whether it is held jointly with someone else, will dictate whether a grant of probate is required to manage the financial assets of a deceased estate.

The executors or beneficiaries (as set out by the intestacy rules if there is no will) will be required to follow certain steps to obtain a grant of probate. Once the Probate Registry has approved the application and validated the will (if there is one), a court-sealed grant is issued.

If you are an executor or administrator of an estate (whether by will or by virtue of the intestacy rules if there is no will), you will need to collate information about the assets and liabilities of the estate. Once you have done this, you can contact the relevant financial institutions to find out their requirements and whether they will need you to provide a grant of probate.

If the deceased held interest in a property in their sole name or jointly with another party as tenants in common, you will need a grant of probate.

The steps required to obtain a grant of probate includes firstly to determine the value of all assets and liabilities at the date of the deceased’s death. Once this has been established, you will need to ascertain whether inheritance tax is payable.

If required, the relevant HM Revenue and Customs forms need to be completed and submitted to make the initial inheritance tax payment. A legal statement will then need to be submitted to the Probate Registry to apply for the grant of probate.

The complexity of dealing with a deceased person’s estate can vary and depends on the size of the estate and whether a will exists and what it provides for. It is strongly recommended to seek professional legal advice if you are the executor of a will to ensure it is managed properly.

Enjoyed this? Read more from Rebecca Mitchell-Smith, Harrison Drury

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