What is Probate?

"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.

Terms Associated with Probate

If the person who has died leaves a will

Grant of Probate

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 the person who has died did not leave a will

Letters of Administration

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?

When is a Grant of Probate needed?

A grant is almost always needed when a person who dies leaves one or more of the following:

  • £10,000 or more
  • Stocks or shares
  • Certain insurance policies
  • Property or land held in their own name or as "Tenants in Common"

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.

A Grant of Representation may not be needed where:

  • The person who died left less than £10,000
  • They owned everything jointly with somebody else and everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner.

Fees and the work involved