What Is A Grant Of Probate?

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 9th May 2024

Coping with the loss of a loved one is challenging, especially if you're also tasked with executing the will of the deceased.

Many individuals in this position are unfamiliar with the necessary steps to handle a deceased person's affairs, including the complex probate process. Understanding terms like Grant of Probate can feel overwhelming, especially when you're grappling with grief.

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In this article, we'll simplify the concept of Grant of Probate, explaining its significance, necessity, and timing to offer clarity and support during this trying time.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a formal document issued by a court that allows the executor named in the deceased person's will to manage and distribute their estate.

This involves organising the deceased's assets, valuing the estate, paying off debts, taxes, and expenses, and then distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will.

When is a Grant of Probate needed?

A Grant of Probate becomes necessary when the deceased has left a will and some assets require legal authority for transfer or access, such as property, significant financial assets, or stocks.

To initiate the process, an application for probate must be submitted, including the original will, the death certificate, and an accurate valuation of the estate. Once granted, the executor can proceed with managing the estate's affairs.

Why is a Grant of Probate needed?

A Grant of Probate gives the executor of a will the legal authority to manage and distribute the assets of the person who has died. Without a Grant of Probate, institutions like banks and the Land Registry won't let you access or transfer things like bank accounts, properties, or stocks.

Its main job is to help you follow the instructions in the will about who gets what. This means paying any debts and taxes owed by the estate before giving out what's left to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Also, probate checks that the will is valid. If there are disagreements among family members or others about the estate, probate helps fairly settle these arguments, overseen by a court.

Who applies for a Grant of Probate?

An executor named in the deceased person's will can apply for a Grant of Probate.

If there's more than one executor named in the will, any of them can apply for probate. However all the named executors need to be included in the application, and they must agree on who will handle the process.

How do you get a Grant of Probate?

Firstly, you should check if probate is needed based on the estate's size and complexity. Typically, if the deceased owned property or significant financial assets solely, probate is necessary. Alternatively, if the state is an excepted estate, it may not.

Next, you should create a detailed inventory and valuation of all assets and liabilities, including property, bank accounts, and debts. This valuation helps determine if there's any Inheritance Tax to pay.

Once you have paid any Inheritance Tax owed on the estate, you can apply for a Grant of Probate online or by post. Fees for this vary based on the estate's value. Some applications may require an interview at the Probate Registry to confirm the application's accuracy.

Once approved, typically within 16 weeks, the Grant of Probate is issued, giving you the legal authority to handle the deceased's estate.

What documents do you need for a Grant of Probate?

To apply for a Grant of Probate you will need:

  • Original will and any codicils

  • Death certificate

  • Application form PA1P

  • Inheritance Tax form

  • Statement of truth (a legal declaration confirming the accuracy of the provided information)

  • ID documents

  • Valuation of the estate.

A wills, trust, and probate solicitor can help make sure you have all the necessary documents and support with your application if you find this difficult.

Does a Grant of Probate cost money?

There may be fees associated with obtaining a Grant of Probate but these fees can be paid from the estate funds. For estates valued over £5,000, the cost of a Grant of Probate is £300, while estates valued below £5,000 are exempt.

It's often practical to have multiple copies of the grant for dealing with various asset holders, such as banks and pension providers. Each additional copy of the grant costs a nominal fee of £1.50. Further, should a second application for probate be necessary, such as applying as an executor after holding ‘power reserved’ on the first application, there's a fee of £20, regardless of the estate's value.

Additionally, depending on the estate's value and structure, Inheritance Tax may be applicable. While not a direct fee for the Grant of Probate, it is a financial consideration during estate administration.

If you opt to use a solicitor to handle the probate application, their fees will vary based on the estate's complexity and the solicitor’s rates, constituting additional costs.

What is the difference between a Grant of Probate and a Letter of Administration?

A Grant of Probate is given when there's a valid will, authorising the executor(s) to manage the deceased's estate according to their wishes.

In contrast, a Letter of Administration is issued in cases of intestacy (when someone dies without a will) or when there's no named executor, appointing someone to manage the estate. This administrator follows the rules of intestacy and distributes assets accordingly.

What happens once probate is granted?

After probate is granted, the executor can start managing the deceased's estate. They'll access assets like bank accounts and property by showing the Grant of Probate, then pay any debts, like funeral costs and taxes.

Next, they'll give out the remaining assets to beneficiaries as per the will. They'll also make detailed final accounts to show all the estate's transactions.

Once everything is sorted and assets are given out, the estate is officially closed, and the executor's job is done.

How long does a grant of probate take?

Getting a Grant of Probate usually takes about 8 to 16 weeks if everything goes smoothly. However, it can sometimes take longer, especially if there are complications like missing documents or tax issues.

It might take up to a year if the estate is complex or there are disagreements. Delays are also common if documents are incomplete or if there are extra steps, like paying taxes.

How can Lawhive help?

The probate process can be daunting, especially when faced with challenges such as disputed wills, complex estate compositions, or Inheritance Tax issues.

Here at Lawhive, we offer expert legal services to guide you through every step of obtaining a Grant of Probate, ensuring that the estate is managed efficiently and per legal requirements.

Reach out to us today for professional assistance and peace of mind during the probate process.

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