What Is Grant of Probate?
When a person dies somebody has to administer the winding up of their estate. This will involve collecting in all assets including money and property. Paying any debts and then distributing the estate to the people who are entitled to it.
As part of this process, the Probate Registry issues a legal document authorising one or more people to carry out the administration of the deceased estate.
This document is called a “Grant of Representation”, also sometimes referred to as a Grant of Probate.
There are three types of Grant of Representation
Grant of Probate
(issued to the Executors named in the deceased’s Will)
Letters of Administration with a Will
(issued when there is a Will, where either no executor has been named, or the named Executors are unable or do not want to be involved in dealing with the winding up of the estate)
Letters of Administration
(issued when the deceased has not made a Will, or any Will made is invalid)
Why is a Grant needed?
Organisations holding the deceased’s money. For example, banks, life assurance companies etc. need to know who the money should be paid out to and in most cases will require proof that a person has the authority to request payment.
The grant is proof to anyone asking to see it that the person named in it is legally entitled to collect and distribute the estate left when a person dies passing it to the people named in his or her Will.
If no valid Will exists the deceased estate will pass to his or her next of kin as outlined in the Law of intestacy and the distribution of the estate to the correct people is the responsibility of the person named in the grant.
When is a Grant not needed?
Sometimes a grant is not needed. For example, most banks will allow the release of the deceased monies under a certain level.
The Executors will not usually need a grant when a property is held in joint names as Beneficial Joint Tenants which makes it is clear that the property automatically becomes the property of the surviving owner.
The Executors may decide to ask anyone holding the deceased’s money whether they can release it to the Executors without seeing a Grant. If they agree there may be conditions so it will be down to each Executor to decide which is the best option.
Who is entitled to a Grant?
There are rules that govern who may be given a Grant, and the issuing of a Grant may depend on the individual circumstances of the case.
A Grant cannot be issued to anyone under the age of 18.
If there is a Legal Will which named Executors they are the first people entitled to a Grant. If no Executors were named or the Executors are unable or unwilling to apply, the next person entitled to a Grant will be any person named in the Will to whom the deceased gives all his estate or the residual estate after all gifts have been paid.
If the deceased did not make a valid Will, an application for a Grant should normally be made by their next of kin in the following order of priority:
- Husband or wife
- Sons or Daughters
- Brothers or Sisters
- Other more distant relatives
When more than one person is entitled to a Grant the Executors may all obtain a Grant together, however, there is a maximum of four applicants allowed.
In most cases, only one person needs to obtain a Grant, but there are circumstances when the Executors and another person may need to obtain a grant together.
If the representatives are asked by someone else to apply on their behalf, a note should be sent with the application giving the details of that person, and the reason why they are not applying. If it is not possible to issue the grant to the Executors the Probate Registry will explain the reasons.
How to Apply for a Grant
- Obtain the application forms from the nearest Probate Registry
- Choose where the Executors or Personal Representatives wish to be interviewed
- Complete the application forms
- Return them, with the death certificate and the original Will to the appropriate Probate Registry
- Attend the interview
The forms & Documents you will normally require
- The Probate Application Form
(This asks for details of the deceased and Executors or personal representative as applicants)
- Account of the Estate (cap44)
(This form asks the Executors to give a full account of the deceased’s estate)
The Executors should try to obtain the full value of all items shown, including any interest or bonus which will be paid.
The full market value of any house should be shown, a professional valuation is not normally required.
The value of household goods, jewellery and belongings should be shown as the amount for which they should be sold.
The Probate Registry advise the Executors to make and keep a copy of any Will they send with the forms.
- The death certificate
- The original Will
(Or any document in which the deceased expresses any wishes about the distribution of his or her estate)
The Executors must send these forms either to the Probate Registry where the Executors wish to be interviewed or to the Probate Registry which controls the local offices where the Executors wish to be interviewed.
The Executors must attend at least one informal interview to enable a grant to be issued. The Executors must state on the probate application form which is the most convenient place for the Executors to attend.
After the Probate Registry has received the application they will send the Executors an appointment for an interview. The interview can take place either at a Probate Registry or at one of its local offices.
Why is the Interview needed?
The interview is to confirm the details the Executors have given and to answer any queries the Executors may have.
The Executors will be asked to sign a form of oath and to swear or affirm before the interviewing officer that the information the Executors have given is true to the best of their knowledge.
In most cases, only one interview is required.
Fees for obtaining a Grant
In all cases, a fee has to be paid. The amount of the fee depends on the size of the estate involved, and cannot be worked out until the details are confirmed at the interview. The grant will not be issued until the fee is paid.
Payment of Tax
In cases where Inheritance Tax is payable a grant cannot be issued until the tax has been paid. If the deceased’s estate is very close to or exceeds the limit at which tax becomes payable the account of the estate will be sent to the Capital Taxes Registry after the interview.
After the Capital Taxes Registry has returned the account to the Probate Registry, the Executors will be notified in writing of the amount payable. Arrangements for payment will be explained to the Executors at the Executors’ interview.
The issue of the grant does not imply that all values submitted are agreed by the Inland Revenue and correspondence may take place when the account is returned to the Capital Taxes Registry.
Tax becomes due 6 months after the end of the month in which the deceased died. Interest is charged on unpaid tax from and including the due date whatever the reason for late payment.
After the Interview
After the interview, the grant will be prepared by the Probate Registry and sent to the Executors by post.
The interviewing officer should be able to give the Executors an estimate of how long it will be before the grant is issued. When the Executors receive the grant the Executors should show it to any person or organisation holding the deceased’s money or property who has asked to see it.
The money and property will then be released to the Executors. Copies of the grant may be obtained from the Probate Registry and are only valid if they bear the impressed seal of the Court. If the Executors have any questions about the figures in the estate or the amount of tax payable, they should contact the Capital Taxes registry.