Hello, I’m Paul Chudleigh, I’m a consultant
solicitor at Bonallack and Bishop, head of private client department, and one of the
things I deal with is dealing with grants of probate and letters of administration and
this is just a simple explanation as to what that involves.
“Probate a simple guide” First step you need to take it to find out
if the deceased made a will and usually the first port of call is the deceased’s solicitors
but look through their personal papers, banks, and there are other avenues open if you can’t
find a will. “What if there is no will?”
If there is no will then the deceased estate is governed by what is known as the laws of
intestacy, and the laws of intestacy determine who takes out the grant, usually the deceased’s
next of kin and they become administrators and they have the same functions as executors
under a will and both are called personal representatives.
“What needs to be done next?” The first thing that needs to be done is to
register the death with the local registry of births, deaths, and marriages and then
you’ll need to make funeral arrangements, the will sometimes contains directions as
to what is to happen, but if not the family may know what the deceased’s wishes were.
“Who identifies assets and debts?” The personal representatives are responsible
for ascertaining the assets and liabilities of the estate.
“How do they do that?” They have to go through the deceased’s personal
papers and it is a fairly onerous task because HMRC impose penalties if they feel a person’s
representative hasn’t applied due diligence and made a thorough investigation.
“What is a grant of probate?” A grant of probate, or a grant of letters
of administration is the title or right of the personal representative to deal with the
deceased’s assets. “Is a grant of probate always needed?”
Not always, there are cases where, if a property is owned jointly the share of the deceased
may automatically pass to the survivor. There are also cases where estates are very small
and the bank or building society where the deceased had savings will accept a declaration
made by the personal representative rather than going for a full round of probate.