What is a Grant of Probate?

19 October 2022

After the death of a loved one or friend, it can be challenging to know which direction to take. If you have been named as an executor in their will, you may wonder what your next steps are. One of the first things you’ll need to do is apply for a grant of probate. 

As an executor of a will, it is your responsibility to settle the deceased’s estate. This includes distributing their assets in accordance with their wishes, as well as resolving any debts that may be owed. To do this, you will need to obtain a grant of probate from the court. 

In this article, we’ll cover what a grant of probate is and how to apply for one. We’ll also discuss what you need to do as an executor once you’ve obtained the grant so that you have all the information you need to handle the process in the simplest way possible. 

The responsibility of an executor 

During their lifetime, many people write a will to specify how they would like their estate to be distributed after their death. The purpose of this document is to ensure that their close friends and family members have easy access to their assets, and it also prevents individuals who are not part of the will from making any claims on the estate. 

The term estate refers to everything owned by the person who has died. An estate consists of money, including cash or assets within bank accounts. It also includes money owed to the deceased person, shares within any companies, properties, and all their personal possessions. 

If you have been named as an executor in someone’s will, you become responsible for distributing their assets according to their wishes. This process can be complex, and it is crucial to seek legal advice before taking any action. 

The responsibilities of an executor may include: 

  • Registering the death 
  • Contacting the deceased’s family and friends to inform them of the death ● Making funeral arrangements 
  • Applying for probate and distributing the estate 
  • Paying inheritance tax 

One thing to note is the difference between the roles of the executor of a will and an attorney. There are often blurred lines between these individuals as they both take responsibility for carrying out the wishes of a particular person. However, whilst an attorney claims responsibility for decisions whilst the donor is alive, an executor is passed authority to distribute their estate in accordance with the will following their death. 

What is a Grant of Probate?

A grant of probate is a legal document that gives the executor of a will the authority to deal with the estate. An executor should not make any financial plans or decisions about the estate until they have obtained this document. 

In some cases, probate is not required if the deceased person didn’t own a property or only had a small amount of money. If an estate is small, with no property and less than £5,000 in the bank, probate is not usually required. Instead, if there is no will, or the estate is valued over £20,000, a grant of probate is usually required. This tends to be dependent on the assets within the estate and their value. For further guidance on the requirements of a grant of probate, you can contact Redkite Solicitors. 

Applying for a grant of probate 

Before distributing the estate of the deceased individual, the executor is legally obliged to apply for a grant of probate. The executor must obtain this document from the court to gain the legal authority to access the deceased person’s accounts and assets. 

To complete this process, the executor must first register the death within eight days. This will provide them with a death certificate which is essential for the probate process. Next, the executor must pay inheritance tax (IHT) on the estate’s value before probate is granted. Up to 40% of the estate will be subject to IHT if valued at over £325,000. There are some additional circumstances and tax bands which come into play which would increase this value, so it is worth meeting with a Solicitor to discuss this. 

Once IHT has been settled, the executor must complete a probate application. The death certificate and original copy of the will should be sent to the probate registry along with the application form. This process can be completed online or via post. On average, it can take between three and six months to be granted probate. 

For more information on this process and to gain an idea of the time it takes to complete the probate application, you can read our previous article on the probate process timeline here. 

How long after probate can a house be sold? 

Once probate has been granted, the assets of the estate can be distributed according to the terms of the will. This includes selling any property that is owned by the deceased. 

Before the probate has been granted, the executor may advertise the property for sale on the property market. However, contracts cannot be exchanged until probate has been received. When selling a house during the probate process, it is important to note that the application may not be granted immediately. If you have accepted an offer, you may lose the sale if the probate process takes longer than expected. 

Another thing that executors should consider is that you are legally responsible for ensuring that the deceased person’s debts are paid before any money is distributed to their

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.