When someone dies, the people who are responsible for dealing with their estate will often have to go through a process to apply for a grant of probate in order to have the legal authority to administer the estate of the deceased person. It’s important if you are the executor of someone’s will or their next of kin if they have died without leaving a will that you know what probate is.

Last Will and TestamentPut simply, probate is the right to deal with someone’s estate when they have died. Depending on the circumstances, there are different types of grants of probate (or representation, as it’s also known).

A grant of probate is an order of the Court giving one or more people the legal authority to administer the estate of the deceased in order to distribute it correctly to the beneficiaries.

When people are named in the Grant of Representation they become legally responsible and liable for the administration of the estate of the deceased. Consequently the decision of who is named for probate is a very important one.

In order for an estate to be administered correctly, there is a series of tax, legal and administrative activities that need to be carried out – collectively these activities are known as probate. All the assets of the deceased have to be accounted for, and their debts and tax liabilities need to be settled. Contact has to be made with lots of different organisations including HMRC, the Court, and various financial institutions. Then the remainder of the estate has to be distributed among the beneficiaries according to the instructions contained in the will of the deceased, or if they died without making a will, according to the Rules of Intestacy.

How long does it take?

The length of time probate takes depends on the individual situation. Usually, though, it’s around six to nine months.

Is probate complicated?

Most people employ a solicitor to help guide them through the process of probate as it can be complicated. The person named in the Grant of Representation is responsible and liable for any mistakes that are made during the process, which is why people often choose to employ a solicitor to deal with the detail.

Is probate always necessary?

In some cases, probate is not required. Examples would be if the estate passes to the surviving spouse or partner and all assets were held in joint names or if the estate doesn’t include shares, land or property. It will still be necessary to contact the bank or building society that holds the money and you may be required to provide a death certificate after the death has been registered.

Generally, it is a lot easier for an executor or the next of kin dealing with someone’s estate to have the help of a solicitor or at least to seek legal advice to decide whether they need to apply for a grant of representation.

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