Dealing with death is never an easy thing to do. However, it is important to have the essentials in place from the outset to ensure that the process of obtaining probate is as smooth as possible.
Probate is the process of proving a Will by the executors who are identified in the Will and more specifically, gives the people who are dealing with the estate the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets.
Obtaining probate when there is a Will is by way of Grant of Probate, also commonly known as a Grant of Representation. If the deceased did not have a Will (also known as dying intestate) a close relative of the deceased can apply for a Grant of Representation, known as the Grant of Letters of Administration. Please be aware that you cannot apply for a Grant of Representation if you are the partner of the deceased but were not their husband, wife or civil partner when they died as you are not automatically entitled to any of your partner’s estate.
If in the situation where there is a will, but it does not appoint an executor (or if the executor is unable or unwilling to act), the personal representative is also called the administrator. He or she will obtain a grant of representation called the letters of administration with will annexed.
You may not need a grant if the deceased:
- Left less then £5,000.00
- Owned everything with someone else in joint names and everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner
The four main steps in the application for the Grant of Representation are:
- Complete an Inheritance Tax Form – Form PA1
- Send you application – You must send your application, being the PA1 form, relevant Inheritance Tax form, an official copy of the death certificate, the original Will plus 3 copies (if any) and the application fee of £215.00. You will not need an application fee if the estate is under £5,000.00.
- Swear an Oath – The probate office will send you an oath and details of how to arrange an appointment. You’ll need to swear the oath at either; the office of a commissioner for oaths (usually a solicitor) or a local probate office.
Once the Grant of Probate has been issued, you should send a copy of such to any organisations that hold the deceased’s assets, for example their bank. In addition any debts the deceased had are to be paid off such as any outstanding bills or any tax that is owed.
After all debts and taxes have been paid, you can distribute the estate either as detailed in the deceased’s Will or if there is not one, under the laws of intestacy.