A Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration when dealing with an intestate estate i.e. one where there is no Will) is a Court Order which confirms the appointment of the Executor(s) (or Personal Representative in cases of intestacy).
Do you always need a Grant of Probate ?
Many institutions such as banks, insurance companies, share Registrars, Land Registry (for the sale or sometimes the transfer of a property) require a Grant of Probate to realise or transfer assets. A Grant is not always required; it depends on the assets within the estate.
How long does the Grant of Probate take?
An application for a Grant is made to the Court. It usually takes two weeks* for the Court to process a correctly submitted Grant application. A prerequisite to applying for the Grant is declaring the correct valuation of the estate at the date of death to HM Revenue and Customs, this is generally done by completing either the IHT205 or IHT400 form depending on the circumstances of the estate. If the latter is applicable, the process of applying for the Grant will be elongated as a unique tax number is required to complete the inheritance tax forms and an issued certificate from the Revenue to confirm the payment of inheritance tax must be lodged with the probate application.
*COVID-19 has extended this time scale to 8 weeks on average.
What is entailed in the Administration of an estate?
This is where the deceased’s estate is managed by the executor (or personal representative) in accordance with the Will (or Rules of Intestacy i.e. where there is no Will). It is not advisable for a lay executor to administer an estate unaided; professional help will guide an executor smoothly through the administration process so to avoid any personal liability for mistakes and/or omissions for lack of knowledge and to ensure the administration is carried out in accordance with the Will and the law.
Can I refuse the role of an Executor ?
If you are named as an executor in a Will but do not wish to take on the role, we could assist in relieving you of this role if certain circumstances are met. Please note, if you are unsure whether or not you want to take on the executor role, you must not interfere with the deceased person’s estate in the intervening period.
Can I, as the named executor appoint someone else to act on my behalf as an attorney?
If you wish to take on the role of executor or administrator but not do the work yourself, you can appoint an attorney to carry out the work on your behalf and we are able to assist with this process.
Where assets are located outside of the UK, sometimes a UK Grant is needed to be re-sealed in that jurisdiction to deal with the sale or transfer of the foreign asset. This will naturally incur additional cost and time. Sometimes, inheritance tax (or equivalent) is required to be paid in that jurisdiction where there is no double taxation treaty with the UK. Also different rules of inheritance may apply where the deceased died intestate in the UK.
If the deceased was non-domiciled and you have applied for an equivalent of a Grant of Probate in the country of death we are able to assist in the re-sealing the foreign Grant in the UK to administer assets in the UK, if required.
What if the original Will cannot be located?
If you have a copy of a Will but cannot trace the original, we can assist you by making an application to the Court to accept the copy Will (under limited circumstances).
What if the beneficiaries wish to change the Will?
If all the beneficiaries agree to change the provisions of the Will, they can do this by a Deed of Variation but only within 2 years of the death.
A minor beneficiary cannot consent to the Will being changed.
What if the deceased lived abroad and had assets in the UK left under a UK Will?
We can assist you applying for a Grant of Probate for the assets passing under the UK Will.
Please contact a member of our experienced team to talk through your questions and queries.