What is Grant of Probate and why do I need it?
When someone dies it may be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate, or if they did not leave a Will, a Grant of Letters of Administration.
Who applies for the Grant of Probate?
If the person who has died has left a Will, the Will should appoint executors. The executors have the role of administering the estate and therefore it will be them who need to apply for the Grant of Probate. If there was no Will left or if the Will did not appoint executors, it is possible for someone to apply to be an administrator of the estate and apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. It will depend on the circumstances as to who can apply to a Grant of Letters of Administration and you should speak to a solicitor about this.
Why is a Grant of Probate needed?
Before you are able to deal with the person’s assets such as their bank accounts, you will need to obtain the legal authority to act. This is confirmed by the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. Once the Grant has been obtained, you have the authority to encash assets, pay any liabilities and distribute the estate.
Do I need a Grant of Probate?
This depends on the size and nature of the estate. In most estates a Grant of Probate is necessary to sell or transfer the house owned by the deceased and to deal with the bank accounts. However, if the estate has a value of less than £5,000 you are unlikely to require a Grant of Probate. In some cases where there are jointly owned assets, such as bank accounts, these can be transferred to the survivor without the need for a Grant of Probate however, this does not mean that a Grant of Probate would not be required for the remainder of the estate and you should obtain advice from a solicitor about this.
When you are acting in the capacity of executor or administrator of an estate, you can be held personally liable for any errors made during the administration of the estate. Therefore it is extremely important that you understand your role as an executor or administrator.
If you would like more information about acting as an executor or administrator of an estate or would like to discuss Grants of Probate generally, please get in touch with one of our Life Planning team.