What is Probate?

Welcome to our page explaining What is Probate.  We are a firm who specialise in dealing with obtaining grants of probate and estate administration work.
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When faced with administering a loved ones estate and having to obtain a grant of probate then one of the first questions you might ask yourself is “What is Probate?”. It’s not something that many people come across very often and it is usually in very sad circumstances following a loved ones death. Knowing what probate is and trying to sort out the estate administration can be time consuming and challenging. However, you  don’t have to do it all by yourself. We can help! Seeking help and assistance and delegating some aspects of your loved one’s estate to a firm of specialist solicitors like ourselves is perfectly normal. In fact, many people who ask the question what it probate use solicitors to sort out the administration of their loved ones estate. By delegating out obtaining a grant of probate and the administration of the estate then hopefully you can find some time and space and peace of mind so you can concentrate on more important things such as starting the grieving process and coming to terms with your loss.

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We offer a free no obligation chat. Simply call us on 0800 3 10 11 12 or 01536 276300 and ask for Adrian, James or Amanda we would be delighted to discuss your situation with you.

Free Probate & Estates Information Guide

Free Legal Guides For DownloadWe offer a free no obligation guide called “How to Administer a Loved Ones Estate”. It’s packed with useful information and hints and tips on what to do and explains what probate is. So if you are not sure what to do at the moment, and simply want some further information, then download our free information guide.

What Is A Grant Of Probate?

If you have recently lost a close relative, and have been named executor of their estate, it is important to have a basic knowledge of probate law in order to understand and implement your responsibilities lawfully and effectively and to understand what is probate. At Seatons, we are here to help you through this difficult time and give helpful, friendly advice in this complicated area and hopefully to answer the what is probate question.

Definition of Grant of Probate

“What is Probate?” is a good question. A Grant of Probate is a court order that provides legal authority for Personal Representatives (known as executors) to administer and distribute the deceased’s estate. Without this legal court order, banks, Building Societies, insurance companies and other similar organisations will not hand over the deceased’s assets.

The phrase “Grant of Probate” is a general term that is often used to describe obtaining a “Grant of Representation”, of which there are three types:

  1. Grant of Probate –Probate is a Grant of Representation provided when a will has been created and an executor has been appointed. It is evidence of the executor’s legal authority to manage the deceased’s estate with authority stemming from the Will itself.
  1. Grant of Letters of Administration –Letters of Administration are granted where the deceased died without a will, and the grant of letters of administration acts as authority for the administrator to act.
  1. Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed –This rather unusual Grant of Representation is appropriate where the deceased made a will but either failed to appoint an executor, or all the executors named in the Will have died or are unable to act. These are quite unusual applications.

Legally, if the value of a deceased person’s Estate exceeds £5,000, then it may be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration from the court. The Grant of Probate or the Grant of Letters of Administration is the legal authority given by the court to enable the deceased’s estate assets to be collected in and to pay off any debts and liabilities and then eventually to distribute the estate accordingly.

When Will A Grant Of Probate Be Needed?

If the value of the net estate is over £5,000, (excluding jointly owned assets or policies written into trust), then a Grant of Probate will usually be needed. However if the value of the estate is less than £5,000, (excluding jointly owned assets or policies written into trust), then a Grant of Probate may not be necessary.

Jointly Held Assets

Jointly held assets such as joint Bank or Building Society accounts or even jointly held property, will often automatically pass to the surviving joint owner on death. These assets will therefore normally be excluded from the deceased’s estate and a Grant of Probate from the Probate Court will not be necessary.

Organisation’s Policies And Procedures

Organisations such as Banks and Building Societies, National Savings and Insurance Companies often have their own policies and procedures when dealing with small estates and obtaining Grant of Probate.

The £5,000 limit was introduced many years ago and is felt by many to be too low a figure to need to insist of obtaining a grant of probate. Therefore nowadays, sums of money up to and well in excess of £5,000 (sometimes as much as £50,000) can often be paid and distributed from various bank’s building societies and other financial institutions and a Grant of Probate is not requested or needed. However each financial organisation has their own rules and procedures and limits and can, if they want, insist on a Grant of Probate being obtained from the Probate Court. For example some financial institutions will pay out money if the monies are less than £30,000 (such as the Nationwide) or others have other limits before insisting on a grant of probate.

Cash, Jewellery, Personal Belongings & Assets Written In Trust

Cash, jewellery and personal effects of modest value can also be distributed without the need for a Grant of Probate so long as all the beneficiaries agree.

It is sometimes the case that assets are Nominated or Written in Trust to a named beneficiary. In these instances, the asset might be excluded from the estate and payable direct to the named beneficiary. The beneficiary can usually claim the money directly from the organisation without the need to produce a Grant of Probate from the Probate Courts.

Latest Probate & Estates Video
Seatons Solicitors | 10 Things to consider about Wills & Probate

Adrian Chambers - Seatons Solicitors

Probate & Estate Specialists

I’m Adrian Chambers and specialise in Probate and Estate matters. We aim to provide our clients with an outstanding legal service.

We will help and support you and most importantly we work hard for you.

If you need help administering a loved one’s estate, please click here for further information.

For information about our costs on probate work please click here.

Please contact us for a free, no obligation chat on 01536 276300 or contact us online.

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