The word ‘probate’ is often used to refer to the entire process of administering a deceased’s estate. The generic name for people doing this job is ‘personal representatives’.
There are two types of personal representatives: ‘executors’ and ‘administrators’.
If the deceased has left a will, it will name someone that they’ve chosen to administer their estate. This person is known as an executor.
If the deceased has not made a will, the intestacy rules (which set out the order of entitlement in the absence of a will) will dictate who is entitled to administer an estate. They are known as administrators. Both executors and administrators need proof that they are entitled to act, and this is obtained by an application to the probate registry for a grant of representation.
A grant of representation is a generic term for the legal document issued by the probate registry to the executors or administrators in the estate of a deceased person which confirms that they have the authority to deal with their estate. Executors get a grant of probate; administrators get a grant of letters of administration.
While the application process to obtain a grant of letters of administration is similar to that for probate, it is slightly more complex. Therefore, if the deceased has not left a will, we recommend that you seek legal advice before doing anything, as the intestacy rules will set out who can act as administrator and how the estate will be split up.
- How do I apply for a grant of probate?
Before making an application for a grant of probate, the executors must obtain full details of the deceased’s assets and debts. This can include formal valuations of key assets such as houses and land, business interests or share portfolios. Unless the estate is an excepted estate, inheritance tax must be paid before the grant can be issued.
Once the grant is obtained, the executors can use this to sell any assets and collect in the sale proceeds, pay the liabilities and distribute the remainder of the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes as expressed in their will.
This process of administering and distributing an estate from date of death until conclusion can take approximately a year for most estates, but the exact time can vary depending on its value and complexity.
If you need support with applying for a grant, get in touch with a member of our Wills & Probate team on 01329 822 333.