A grant of probate is a court order which authorises one or more people to deal with the assets of someone who has died (the estate) and then to pass them on to the beneficiaries.
Where there is a will, the people with this authority are known as executors. Where there is no will, the people entitled to take a grant (in this case called a grant of letters of administration) are the people specified as next of kin under the laws of intestacy (the rules that apply when there is no will.)
When is a grant of probate (or letters of administration) needed?
Generally, a grant is needed only when there are assets of more than £5,000, shares or a house, flat or land to be dealt with. Without the grant, these assets cannot be released or sold.
How to get a grant of probate
All the assets and debts of the estate need to be identified, as well as any significant gifts made (usually) within 7 years of the date of death. Sometimes probate can be straightforward, but often much correspondence is involved to establish all the assets, liabilities and gifts. The executors have a legal duty to make an accurate report of the assets. It can be a daunting process at a difficult time and sometimes inheritance tax will be payable. We have the experience to deal with matters efficiently and sympathetically, to mitigate any tax payable (by the correct application of any transferable nil rate band, residence nil rate band and reliefs) and to explain how inheritance tax can be paid by instalments, where appropriate.
The likely timescale
In most cases the grant of probate will be obtained around 3 to 6 months after you first instruct us. Significant payments from the estate can often be made soon after probate is granted but the final winding up of the estate may take longer if, for example, there is a property to sell or income tax matters need to be resolved.