What is a Grant of Probate?
Grant of Probate is basically a certificate indicating that you are the person that is entitled to settle the deceased person’s estate (i.e. money, shares, property etc.). It is obtained from the Probate Registry and is an official document that is recognised by banks, building societies, lawyers etc. as proof that you are entitled to deal with the estate
What is a grant of letters of administration?
Exactly the same as a Grant of Probate, but it applies where the person died without making a Will. If they died leaving a Will then it’s called Grant of Probate, if no Will then it’s a Grant of Letters of Administration.
Why do I need a grant of Probate if there is already a Will?
It’s really an extra security step. Potentially anyone could produce a document claiming it to be the last known Will of the deceased. Banks, Building societies etc. would then have to know if it’s a valid Will and so on. They wouldn’t know where to start with this. The Grant of Probate is issued by an independent body – the Probate Registry, so the banks, Building Societies etc. can rely upon it and let you draw the money out of the deceased’s bank accounts (for example).
There is only a little bit of money in the bank – do I need Probate?
A Grant of Probate is almost always needed when a person who dies leaves stocks or shares, insurance policies, property or land held in their own name or as ‘tenants in common’. However, the rules for banks and building societies, etc. are less clear as each company has its own rules. Some banks will allow you to remove money from the deceased’s bank account by showing their death certificate and by completing a closure form. But some banks will need a Grant of Probate to withdraw any amount of money.
How long will Probate take?
This depends entirely on the estate and how much work is needed to complete this. If we are applying to obtain a Grant of Representation, it can take around 4 weeks. If we are fully administering an estate, it can take days from the point of receiving the Grant, or years depending on the assets involved especially if property or businesses need to be sold, or of there is some form of dispute.
I had a Power of Attorney, do I need a Grant of Probate?
Any kind of Power of Attorney will end after the person dies. So you will need some kind of Grant of Representation to deal with the deceased’s affairs.
I’m an Executor of a Will and that person has now died. Do I have to fill out the forms and do all the work myself?
Not if you don’t want to. An Executor’s role is voluntary. If you do not have the time, or simply find it too difficult to deal with, you can ‘renounce’ your role and allow others to take your place. Most Wills will name replacements to cover exactly this situation. But if not, parties who have sufficient interest in the deceased’s estate can apply for a Grant of Representation and administer the estate in your place. You can also appoint a Solicitor or other party to handle the estate on your behalf.
I’m being asked to pay the funeral account but I can’t afford it and the Grant of Representation is weeks away. What can I do?
If you give a copy of the funeral account to them, most banks will draw up a cheque payable to the funeral directors for you to pay the invoice.