When you’ve been named as the executor of an estate or are an administrator through Intestacy it can be hard to get your head around all of the legal procedures involved in applying for probate. In our FAQ section, you can find information, advice and guidance about the process.
Every estate is different, some more complicated than others. This makes it impossible to provide a “one size fits all” answer to what happens, how long it takes and how much it costs. However, what we can do is give advice and explain some of the standard processes that apply in most circumstances when administering an estate and applying for probate.
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 a grant of probate either by themselves or with help from a registered professional, for example, a solicitor who will apply on their behalf. Instructing a professional does not pass your executorship onto them, the grant will still be issued to the named executor.
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. In a lot of cases, solicitors and banks will renounce their executorship when asked by another solicitor.
When there is no will the next of kin will step forward to become the administrator of an estate. 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.
A grant of probate or letters of administration will be required if there are any significant assets held in the deceased’s sole name. This is to ensure the security of the assets. The most common assets that someone would hold in a sole name include property, bank accounts and shares.
Why does property require a grant of probate?
Property in the sole name of the deceased will always require probate. This is also often the case for property held as tenants in common. As property held in tenants in common is not automatically inherited by the surviving owner, the deceased’s share will be passed according to their Will or the laws of Intestacy. If the intended beneficiary is not the surviving owner of the property Probate will be needed to release their share.
Why does cash in bank accounts require a grant of probate?
A financial institution will request to see a grant of probate before releasing significant amounts of liquid assets (cash) that they are holding in the deceased’s name. This is to prevent a non-entitled person from claiming the money. Bank accounts will be frozen, meaning no money can go in or out, until a grant has been provided.
When will a bank ask for a grant of probate?
Bank accounts holding amounts over the institution’s threshold will require probate. Each institution has a different threshold for what they will release without probate. These thresholds are always lower when there is no will. If the amount being held is below the institution’s threshold, they may transfer control of the assets to the executor or administrator without the need for probate.
What other types of assets will need a grant of probate?
Assets such as Life insurance policies, pensions, stocks and shares and Premium bonds often require probate. However, as with bank accounts, this is dependent on the value of the assets they are holding. It is always best to check with the relevant institutions themselves as to what they will require from you.
When is a grant of probate not needed?
A grant of probate is not required when the deceased only held assets in joint names or of low value. However, it is good practice to obtain a grant even when one isn’t required as this means a copy will be stored at the probate office along with the original will. It also means if a significant asset appears at a later date, you will not need to apply for probate retrospectively.
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 advice and a fixed fee quote for probate on 0800 731 8722 or send us an enquiry via our website.