"Probate" is a term commonly used when talking about the right to deal with a deceased's persons affairs called "Administering the Estate".
In practice, different terms are used, depending on whether or not the deceased person left a will.
In this case one or more "Executors" may be named in the will to deal with the person’s affairs after their death. The Executor applies for a "Grant of Probate" from a section of the Court known as the Probate Registry.
The grant is a legal document which confirms that the Executor has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets.
If there is no will, a close relative of the deceased can apply to the Probate Registry to deal with the estate. In this case, they apply for a "Grant of Letters of Administration".
If a grant is given, they are known as the "Administrators" of the estate. Like the Grant of Probate, the Grant of Letters of Administration is a legal document which confirms the Administrator’s authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets.
Is a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration always needed?
A grant is almost always needed when a person who dies leaves one or more of the following:
In most cases above, the bank or relevant institution will need to see the Grant before transferring control of the assets.
However, if the estate is small, some organisations, such as insurance companies and building societies, may release the money to you at their discretion.