What is Probate?
The term Probate is used to describe the legal processes involved in obtaining a grant of probate in order to distribute a person’s estate after they have died. This involves dealing with a deceased’s property including all financial and personal possessions as well as settling their debts and winding up charges on the estate.
What is a grant of probate?
A grant of probate, also known as a grant of representation and in cases when there is no will letters of administration, is essentially just a document granted to you by the probate office that confirms your right as an executor/administrator and your authority to deal with the deceased’s assets.
Who can apply for probate?
Executors named in the will can apply for probate either by themselves or with help from a registered professional, for example a solicitor who will apply on their behalf.
A solicitor, bank or charity can apply for probate if named as an executor in the will. They do not need permission from the family or beneficiaries in order to start the probate process. The beneficiaries can ask an executor to renounce however it is their choice as to whether they want to do so but in a lot cases solicitors and banks will renounce their executorship when asked by another solicitor.
The next of kin will step forward to become the administrator of an estate when there is no will. It’s in these cases that probate is called letters of administration. The administrator can apply to the probate office themselves or choose a registered professional to administer the estate on their behalf.
Do I need a grant?
You will usually require probate or letters of administration if there are any significant assets held in the deceased sole name. The most common assets that someone would hold in a sole name are property and bank accounts.
Property in the sole name of the deceased will always requires probate, the same goes for properties held as tenants in common. Probate will be needed for the share of the property held by the deceased.
Bank accounts when over the institutions threshold will require probate. Each institution has a different threshold for what they will release without probate. Depending on the value of assets held with them they may transfer control of the assets to the executor without asking for probate if it is a small amount. These thresholds are always lower when there is no will and in those cases you are more likely to be asked for letters of administration.
It is always best to check with the relevant institutions themselves as to what they will require from you.
This applies also to other assets that are likely to need probate for example, certain types of Life insurance policies, pensions, Stocks and shares and Premium bonds.
If you are unsure of whether you need probate or what your options are for acquiring a grant of representation speak to a member of our team who can provide you with simple and straightforward advice and a no obligation fixed fee probate quotation.