What is a Grant of Probate?
A Grant of Probate is a legal document that is issued by the Probate Registry after someone’s death. It gives a person (or group of people) the authority to administer the deceased person’s estate. It also proves their Will is valid, if there is one.
When is a Grant of Probate needed?
A Grant of Probate is not needed every time a person dies in the UK. Usually, it is only required if the deceased owned assets of a significant value, and these assets were held in their sole name.
It is hard to say exactly what is meant by ‘assets of a significant value’. The rule is that small estates do not require Probate. However, there is no set definition of a small estate. Banks and financial institutions set their own thresholds. Assets worth up to £25,000 can often be released without a Grant of Probate. Sometimes the threshold can be as low as £5,000, other times it can be as high as £50,000. It is therefore necessary to check with each bank and financial institution holding the deceased’s assets.
If the deceased did own assets of significant value – such as a property – then it is important to establish how these assets were held. If the asset was jointly owned, and the co-owner is still alive, then it normally passes directly to the surviving owner. There is no need for a Grant of Probate. This is permitted under the Rule of Survivorship. A common example is when a married couple own a property together as joint tenants. When the first person dies, their share of the property automatically passes to the surviving owner.
However, if an asset is held in the deceased’s sole name or owned as tenants in common, a Grant of Probate will be needed. The asset will remain frozen until a Grant has been issued.
If your loved one has recently died, you might be uncertain as to whether or not Probate is needed. If so, please contact us at Mark Cook Solicitors. We can clarify the situation, explaining whether Probate is required.
How to get a Grant of Probate
To get a Grant of Probate, an application must be lodged with the Probate Registry. There are strict rules regarding who can make this application. If there is a Will, it must be the Executors named in the Will. Otherwise, it must be the deceased’s next of kin. Usually, this is a spouse or child. For the purposes of Probate, this person is known as the Administrator. If there isn’t a Will, the Administrator must actually apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, rather than a Grant of Probate. However, the process is largely the same.
To get a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration, you need to send the following to the Probate Registry:
- The death certificate
- An Inheritance Tax (IHT) form
- The original Will and codicils, if applicable
- A PA1 form
You will also need to pay the Probate Registry fees. If Inheritance Tax is due, this must be paid before a Grant is issued.
What happens after a Grant is issued?
If the Probate Registry is satisfied with the application, a Grant will be issued. This gives the Executors or Administrator the authority to access the deceased’s assets. It is then possible to administer the estate. This entails gathering in assets, paying off debts and, finally, distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.
Ask a Probate solicitor to help
You can apply for Probate yourself, or you can ask a Probate solicitor to do it for you. Preparing the application requires a significant amount of work, so you may prefer to instruct a legal expert. Completing the Inheritance Tax form is particularly difficult because it is necessary to establish the value of the deceased’s estate at the date of death. This means locating all the deceased’s assets and debts, and calculating their value. Often, this requires professional valuations. This can be time-consuming.
It should also be noted that Executors and Administrators can be held personally liable for any mistakes that are made during the Probate and estate administration process. Because of the risks and complexities involved, many people opt to use the services of a Probate lawyer.
Make an enquiry
If you would like to know more about how a Probate solicitor can help, please call us on 0191 567 7244 and we’ll be happy to help you.
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