If someone close to you dies, you might need to get a Grant of Probate. But what is this, and why might you need one? 

What Is A Grant Of Probate?

When somebody dies, an executor will need to administer their estate – this essentially involves tidying up their affairs and distributing their assets according to their wishes.

Before this can be done, the executor needs to get legal permission to act. Without this, they won’t be able to deal with the assets. The legal authority to act is called a Grant of Probate (or, in Scotland, a Grant of Confirmation).

Who Needs A Grant Of Probate?

If you want to act as an executor of someone’s will, you are likely to need a Grant of Probate. The only instances when you may not need one are:

  • If the estate is worth less than £10,000.
  • If the deceased owned everything jointly with someone else, so the ownership is all transferred to them.
  • If the deceased didn’t leave a will – in this case, a Grant of Letters of Administration is needed instead.

How Do You Get A Grant Of Probate?

There are several steps that you need to follow to get a Grant of Probate. These are:

  1. Register the death (this needs to be done within 5 days).
  2. Value the estate – this will involve going through the deceased’s papers and bank statements. You’ll need to consider investments, properties and personal belongings.
  3. File probate applications. You can apply online here.
  4. File inheritance tax forms. You can find out more about inheritance tax here. This can be a complex issue and it is often worth getting a solicitor to help if you don’t have experience of it.
  5. Pay probate fees. In England and Wales, the fee is £215 – unless you apply through a solicitor, in which case it is £155. If the estate is worth less than £5,000, the fee is waived.
  6. Pay inheritance tax. This is the final step before probate can be granted. A tenth of the final inheritance tax sum is required in advance, and usually HMRC will accept instalments.

When these steps have been completed, you are able to begin administering the estate.

Can Probate Be Declined?

There can be circumstances where there are issues with probate. These might be where there is suspected fraud, executor negligence, obstruction or family disputes.

In these cases, it may be necessary to appoint a new executor. Firstly, the current executor would need to be removed by the court. This might happen if the current executor has a criminal conviction, have a physical or mental disability which stops them from performing their duties or there is a conflict of interest or serious misconduct.

If You Need Help With Probate…

Whether you are an executor or beneficiary (or both), we can help with any probate issues. Our Wills & Probate Team can help with your queries in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Sandbach, Knutsford, Crewe and surrounding Cheshire and Staffordshire areas. Simply contact us today.