When You Need a Grant of Probate

When a person dies and leaves a valid Will, they appoint Executors to deal with their property, money and personal items (the Estate). 

What do Executors do?

The Executors have a duty to:

  • Look after any assets
  • Sell or collect them in
  • Pay any debts, expenses or inheritance tax due from the Estate
  • Distribute what is left to those entitled under the terms of the Will 

Often the Executors need a document to perform these duties, called a Grant of Probate. 

What exactly is a Grant of Probate?

This is a document issued by the Court, confirming that:

  • The person or people named are those entitled to deal with the deceased’s affairs and have the Court’s authority to do so
  • The Will made and proved is valid, and is not subject to challenge (although it is possible for this to happen for up to six months after the Grant has been issued)

When is a Grant of Probate needed?

A Grant of Probate is:

  • Often needed to confirm to those holding assets (Banks, Insurers, Share Registrars etc) that they are dealing with the right person and can hand over assets or cash to them
  • Almost always needed when selling a property in an estate, to confirm to the buyer that they are dealing with the person with authority to sell and continues the ‘chain’ of ownership

Can you give me an example?

One very common reason for obtaining a Grant is when a couple own a property as tenants in common.  In this case:

  • Each person has a divisible share of the property
  • It cannot pass under the terms of a Will unless a Grant is obtained

Remember, it is always best to check the title deeds to confirm the ownership before deciding if a Grant is needed.

Is a Grant of probate always needed?

No. There are instances when a Grant is not required. 

Before making the application the Executors should check the title deeds to any property and with all asset holders, to see what their individual requirements are.  Often assets can be transferred to a joint owner by merely producing a copy of the death certificate. 

What about Statutory Declarations?

If the balance of a bank or building society account is small, the Executors may need to sign a Statutory Declaration. This confirms that they are the correct person to deal with.  Cash will then be released to them, with no need to do anything further.

If a Grant is needed, Executors can make a personal application to the Court or they can instruct a Solicitor to do this for them.  A Solicitor will prepare the correct account for submission to H M Revenue & Customs and the appropriate Oath for Executors.  These documents are signed and sworn by the Executors and an application made to the Court.

Getting in touch

To find out more about Wills and Grants of probates, please contact David Endicott on 01295 204005 or email dendicott@se-law.co.uk