What is Probate?
A common question asked by clients when we are advising on the administration of a person’s estate is “What is Probate?”
Basically, “Probate” is a legal document, granted by the Probate Registry, to prove an executor’s right to be able to deal with the assets comprised in a deceased’s estate. It is generally needed where a person who dies leaves more than £5,000 in their own name at the date of their death.
Typically, if a person dies, leaving a valid Will appointing an executor, then the executor will need apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of ‘Probate’ to the Will. This will enable them to be able to deal with the deceased’s assets.
If the person who dies leaves a Will, but the appointment of an Executor fails, for example, the Executor has died before the deceased, and no alternative Executor is appointed under the Will, then a residuary beneficiary of the Will can apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of ‘Letters of Administration with Will Annexed’ to enable them to deal with the deceased’s assets.
If the person who dies leaves no valid Will, then their next of kin will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of ‘Letters of Administration’ to enable them to deal with the deceased’s assets.
These are the three most common types of Grant issued by the Probate Registry but there are numerous other types, designed to accommodate various circumstances. However, each Grant is essentially the same in that the person named in the Grant is the person with the legal authority to administer the Estate.
Depending on the circumstances, it may be the case that ‘Probate’ (or its equivalent) is not required – for example in a small estate, it may be possible to agree with the bank or building society to release the funds due to the estate without the formal requirement for a Grant.
In the event of a death, as an executor or next of kin if there is no will, please seek legal advice to ensure you know exactly what to do, what your responsibilities are and what, if any, deadlines apply for things like submitting inheritance tax accounts, arranging payment of inheritance tax, the possibility of varying a Will after death, the possibility of a dependent bringing a claim against the estate, etc.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance – we are here to help!