Probate and Estate Administration
‘Probate’ is a term commonly used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs. It is sometimes called ‘administering the estate’.
If the Person who has Died Leaves 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 (property, money and possessions). They can use it to show they have the right to access funds, sort out finances, and collect and share out the deceased person’s assets as set out in the will
If the Person who has Died Didn’t Leave a Will.
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 the grant is given, they are known as ‘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.
In some cases, for example, where the person who benefits is a child, the law states that more than one person must act as the administrator.
When someone dies without leaving a will, dealing with their estate can be complicated. It can also take a long time – months or even years in some very complex cases.
If matters are complex or you feel you need help, it’s a good idea to consult a solicitor as soon as possible. It’s advisable to show them all the information and documentation you have about the deceased person’s property, belongings and financial affairs. In the meantime, it may be a good idea to put small valuable items away for safekeeping
Who Can Deal with the Deceased Person’s Estate
Usually a close relative like a spouse, child or parent will have the right to sort out the estate of the person who has died.
Applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration
To administer someone’s estate you normally need to apply to the Probate Registry for a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’. You can ask your solicitor to help you with applying for a grant or you can make a personal application
On receipt of the grant you become the ‘administrator’ of the estate. The grant provides proof to banks, building societies and other organisations that you have authority to access and distribute funds. The overall process is often referred to as ‘obtaining probate’, though technically this term applies where there was a will
If there’s more than one executor it’s common to agree that one will apply for the grant and sort out the will. However up to four executors can apply jointly and sort out everything together
You can ask a solicitor to apply for the grant for you.
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