GUIDE TO PROBATE

A R SOLICITORS Property Specialists... Solicitors Established 1954 AUSTIN RYDER & CO Property Specialists... SOLICITORS

AUSTIN RYDER GUIDE TO PROBATE

When a person dies someone has to deal with their affairs and this is called “administrating the estate”.

If the person who has died leaves a will

If the person who has died leaves a will it will usually name one or more people to act as the executors

of the will; that is to administer the deceased’s estate. If you are named as an executor of a will you may

need to apply for a grant of probate.  A grant of probate is an official document which the executors

may need to in order to administer the estate.  It is issued by the court known as the probate registry.   

If there is no will

If there is no will (this is known as the deceased having died intestate) the process is more complicated.    

An application for a grant of letters of administration (an official document issued by the court which

allows administrators to administer the estate) will need to be made.

The person to whom the letters of administration is granted is known as the administrator. He or she is

the person who has the legal right to deal with the affairs of the person who has died and they are

determined by a specified order of priority. Usually the administrator will be a close relative of the

person who has died if there is one. However, there may be more than one person who has an equal

right to do this.  In this event you may need to seek legal advice on the set order of priority.

IPersonal representatives (PR’s)

The people who deal with what you own when you die are called your personal representatives.  If they are appointed by a valid will or codicil

they are known as executors but when they are not appointed in this way as happens where the deceased dies intestate the personal

representatives are known as administrators. If there are more than one personal representative then they must work together to decide

matters between them. This agreement between personal representatives can be resolved through the courts but this can be an expensive and

lengthy procedure.  A valid will operates from the moment it’s maker dies so that an executor has full authority from the moment of a person’s

death. That authority is effective even though the will has not yet been formally approved in a way the law requires. When eventually the will is

proved by the issue to the executors of a grant of probate it merely confirms and makes official the powers that they have had since death.    

An important distinction between probate and letters of administration is that administrators have no legal authority to act until the grant of

letters of administration is issued to them.  

In the event that there is a fully valid will which does not appoint executors or where the executors cannot act (because they have died or cannot

be found or have renounced) then the nearest relatives can usually apply for letters of administration. The procedures for making an application

are the same as for the executors but whereas executors at the end of an administration receive a grant of probate, in this case, it could be a

grant of letters of administration with the will annexed, that is the terms of the will be attached to the letter of administration. Even though they

are administrators and not executors they have to deal with the distribution of the estate in accordance with the will so that the rules of

intestacy will not apply.    

Grants of representation

This includes grants of probate (when there is a valid will) and grants of letters of administration (where there is no will). People frequently refer

to probate even if there is no will.    

Whether a grant of representation is needed

It is not always essential to take out a grant of probate or letters of administration. If the property left behind consists only of cash, (that is bank

notes and coins) and personal effects such as furniture and perhaps a car and not for example any shares, bank accounts, pensions or property

then no formal steps to prove the right of the relatives to their inheritance need to be taken but any will should not be destroyed in case there is

a dispute later. Furthermore, there are some other kinds of property which can be distributed without much formality. This might for example

be where the deceased held a limited number of National Savings which might also include any interest due or prizes from Premium Bonds.

The amount together with the interest to the date of payment can be paid to the person entitled to it without a grant being taken out at all. The

same applies to money being held in certain pension funds and friendly societies. However, the total of the sums in the savings bank or similar

and the total value of the estate is be subject to limitations. Thus, a grant of representation is not always needed, for example if the person who

dies has left less than £5,000 in total or owned everything jointly with another. However, some financial organizations may require a grant

before allowing access even to a relatively small amount of money.   

Usually a grant of representation will be needed when the person who has died has left

More than £5,000

Stocks or shares

Property or land

Some insurance policies

How to apply for a Grant

Although you can apply in person it is highly advisable to consult a solicitor as any one of the number of complexities can arise in connection

with winding up an estate, even a relatively small one. Often the personal representatives are busy people perhaps without the time or

inclination to deal with an administration of an estate and the legal aspects of same.

Furthermore in many cases the solicitor’s services are essential, particularly where the deceased owned his or her own business, was a partner

in a firm, or was involved in an insurance syndicate or where there is agricultural property or  where family trusts are involved.  Other situations

might arise where for example on an intestacy or under the will some of the property is passed to children who are at present under the age of

18 years. These rights are called minority interests and particular legal problems can arise regarding them.

Another situation which sometimes arises is where some long forgotten relative is entitled to a share in the estate and there are difficulties in

tracing them.  Furthermore, home made wills particularly some on printed forms can contain ambiguities or irregularities which create

difficulties and legal advice may be required as to the interpretation of the wills in order to ascertain the intentions of the deceased at the time

he or she made the will. If an executor wrongly interprets a will he may become personally liable for the consequences of his error.   

A solicitor should also be used if there is a possibility of anyone seeking a share or larger share of the deceased’s estate under the Inheritance

(Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 despite the terms of the will or the rules of intestacy.   

Another potential difficulty is where the estate is insolvent that is to say if the debts exceed the value of the assets. Similarly although the estate

might be solvent there may be sufficient monies to pay all of the legacies in full or there is no residue.  It should be noted that solicitor’s fees will

be paid as one of the first entitled against the assets in the estate before other creditors.  

The responsibilities of personal representatives

Personal representatives are responsible for making sure that the estate is administered correctly. If there is a will the personal representative

must make sure that the wishes of the person who has died out set out in the will are followed. If there is no will, then the personal

representative must follow the rules of intestacy as set out in the administration under the Administration of Estates Acts 1925.   Again we can

explain these requirements and advise accordingly.  

Inheritance Tax 

Personal representatives are responsible for finding out if inheritance tax is due following a person’s death and if it is he or she must make sure

that it is paid.

Whether inheritance tax needs to be paid can depend on various facts and again if in doubt it is highly advisable to consult a solicitor.   

Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can take a long time

Some cases can take up to a year or even longer. Many organisations may be involved in the process such as banks, building societies, insurance

companies and HM Revenue and Customs.    

The estate cannot be dealt with until all claims to it have been received. Individuals have 6 months from the date when probate was granted to

make claims against the estate.  Various other issues may arise which can significantly delay resolving matters.

Solicitor’s fees

A solicitor’s fees for dealing with an estate are paid out of the deceased’s property and assets. They are a proper expense much like funeral

expenses and inheritance tax. The personal representatives do not have to pay them from their own funds as it is normally the residuary legatee

who bears them namely the person who under the will is to receive the rest of the deceased’s property  money or assets after paying out

everything else including these expenses.

When someone has died it is not always possible to know immediately what may be involved and how much advice and assistance is required.   

However, we can tell you what the costs are likely to be before carrying out any work and indeed we are required to do so. 

We as a firm consider that not only are our charges for such matters reasonable but we make every endeavour to minimize them.   

Furthermore, we pride ourselves on being approachable and sympathetic to the needs of the client in such matters and endeavour to be

approachable and efficient in dealing with the estate or otherwise providing such advice to the client as may be required.   

We would be pleased to be of assistance to you in connection with any matters relating to the administration of a deceased’s estate whether it

be obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration.   Please contact us by telephone or in person or by email with your enquiries.  

Austin Ryder and Co is there to help you. 

Please fill out the Form below, we will get back to you shortly..

Your Name
Tel No
Email address

Quick message

We are there for you.
Austin Ryder © 2009-2017 - authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority  SRA website www.sra.org.uk    European Commission platform for Consumer Disputes http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/  -  Vat No 232782366 Cookies Policy
Solicitors Edmonton Office Tel: 020 8804 5111 Fax: 020 8804 9863 DX36252 Edmonton2 SRA ID  645868 Solicitors Cheshunt Office Tel: 01992 624 804 Fax: 01992 621 016 SRA ID  644294

GUIDE TO PROBATE

Solicitors Established 1954 AUSTIN RYDER & CO A R Property Specialists... Tel: 020 8804 5111 SOLICITORS

AUSTIN RYDER GUIDE TO PROBATE

When a person dies someone has to deal with their affairs and this is

called “administrating the estate”.

If the person who has died leaves a will

If the person who has died leaves a will it will usually name one or more

people to act as the executors of the will; that is to administer the

deceased’s estate.    If you are named as an executor of a will you may

need to apply for a grant of probate.  A grant of probate is an official

document which the executors may need to in order to administer the

estate.  It is issued by the court known as the probate registry.   

If there is no will

If there is no will (this is known as the deceased having died intestate) the

process is more complicated.     An application for a grant of letters of

administration (an official document issued by the court which allows

administrators to administer the estate) will need to be made.

The person to whom the letters of administration is granted is known as

the administrator.     He or she is the person who has the legal right to

deal with the affairs of the person who has died and they are determined

by a specified order of priority.    Usually the administrator will be a close

relative of the person who has died if there is one.  However, there may be

more than one person who has an equal right to do this.  In this event you

may need to seek legal advice on the set order of priority.

IPersonal representatives (PR’s)

The people who deal with what you own when you die are called your

personal representatives.  If they are appointed by a valid will or codicil they

are known as executors but when they are not appointed in this way as

happens where the deceased dies intestate the personal representatives are

known as administrators.    If there are more than one personal representative

then they must work together to decide matters between them. This

agreement between personal representatives can be resolved through the

courts but this can be an expensive and lengthy procedure.  A valid will

operates from the moment it’s maker dies so that an executor has full

authority from the moment of a person’s death. That authority is effective

even though the will has not yet been formally approved in a way the law

requires.  When eventually the will is proved by the issue to the executors of a

grant of probate it merely confirms and makes official the powers that they

have had since death.    

An important distinction between probate and letters of administration is that

administrators have no legal authority to act until the grant of letters of

administration is issued to them.  

In the event that there is a fully valid will which does not appoint executors or

where the executors cannot act (because they have died or cannot be found or

have renounced) then the nearest relatives can usually apply for letters of

administration.  The procedures for making an application are the same as for

the executors but whereas executors at the end of an administration receive a

grant of probate, in this case, it could be a grant of letters of administration

with the will annexed, that is the terms of the will be attached to the letter of

administration. Even though they are administrators and not executors they

have to deal with the distribution of the estate in accordance with the will so

that the rules of intestacy will not apply.    

Grants of representation

This includes grants of probate (when there is a valid will) and grants of letters

of administration (where there is no will).  People frequently refer to probate

even if there is no will.    

Whether a grant of representation is needed

It is not always essential to take out a grant of probate or letters of

administration. If the property left behind consists only of cash, (that is bank

notes and coins) and personal effects such as furniture and perhaps a car and

not for example any shares, bank accounts, pensions or property then no

formal steps to prove the right of the relatives to their inheritance need to be

taken but any will should not be destroyed in case there is a dispute later.

Furthermore, there are some other kinds of property which can be distributed

without much formality. This might for example be where the deceased held a

limited number of National Savings which might also include any interest due

or prizes from Premium Bonds.

The amount together with the interest to the date of payment can be paid to

the person entitled to it without a grant being taken out at all. The same

applies to money being held in certain pension funds and friendly societies.

However, the total of the sums in the savings bank or similar and the total

value of the estate is be subject to limitations. Thus, a grant of representation

is not always needed, for example if the person who dies has left less than

£5,000 in total or owned everything jointly with another. However, some

financial organizations may require a grant before allowing access even to a

relatively small amount of money.   

Usually a grant of representation will be needed when the person who

has died has left

More than £5,000

Stocks or shares

Property or land

Some insurance policies

How to apply for a Grant

Although you can apply in person it is highly advisable to consult a solicitor as

any one of the number of complexities can arise in connection with winding up

an estate, even a relatively small one. Often the personal representatives are

busy people perhaps without the time or inclination to deal with an

administration of an estate and the legal aspects of same.

Furthermore in many cases the solicitor’s services are essential, particularly

where the deceased owned his or her own business, was a partner in a firm, or

was involved in an insurance syndicate or where there is agricultural property

or  where family trusts are involved.  Other situations might arise where for

example on an intestacy or under the will some of the property is passed to

children who are at present under the age of 18 years. These rights are called

minority interests and particular legal problems can arise regarding them.

Another situation which sometimes arises is where some long forgotten

relative is entitled to a share in the estate and there are difficulties in tracing

them.  Furthermore, home made wills particularly some on printed forms can

contain ambiguities or irregularities which create difficulties and legal advice

may be required as to the interpretation of the wills in order to ascertain the

intentions of the deceased at the time he or she made the will. If an executor

wrongly interprets a will he may become personally liable for the

consequences of his error.   

A solicitor should also be used if there is a possibility of anyone seeking a

share or larger share of the deceased’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision

for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 despite the terms of the will or the rules

of intestacy.   

Another potential difficulty is where the estate is insolvent that is to say if the

debts exceed the value of the assets.     Similarly although the estate might be

solvent there may be sufficient monies to pay all of the legacies in full or there

is no residue.  It should be noted that solicitor’s fees will be paid as one of the

first entitled against the assets in the estate before other creditors.  

The responsibilities of personal representatives

Personal representatives are responsible for making sure that the estate is

administered correctly.   If there is a will the personal representative must

make sure that the wishes of the person who has died out set out in the will

are followed.    If there is no will, then the personal representative must follow

the rules of intestacy as set out in the administration under the Administration

of Estates Acts 1925.   Again we can explain these requirements and advise

accordingly.  

Inheritance Tax 

Personal representatives are responsible for finding out if inheritance tax is

due following a person’s death and if it is he or she must make sure that it is

paid.

Whether inheritance tax needs to be paid can depend on various facts and

again if in doubt it is highly advisable to consult a solicitor.   

Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can take a long time

Some cases can take up to a year or even longer. Many organisations may be

involved in the process such as banks, building societies, insurance companies

and HM Revenue and Customs.    

The estate cannot be dealt with until all claims to it have been received.

Individuals have 6 months from the date when probate was granted to make

claims against the estate.  Various other issues may arise which can

significantly delay resolving matters.

Solicitor’s fees

A solicitor’s fees for dealing with an estate are paid out of the deceased’s

property and assets. They are a proper expense much like funeral expenses

and inheritance tax. The personal representatives do not have to pay them

from their own funds as it is normally the residuary legatee who bears them

namely the person who under the will is to receive the rest of the deceased’s

property  money or assets after paying out everything else including these

expenses.

When someone has died it is not always possible to know immediately what

may be involved and how much advice and assistance is required.    However,

we can tell you what the costs are likely to be before carrying out any work and

indeed we are required to do so. 

We as a firm consider that not only are our charges for such matters

reasonable but we make every endeavour to minimize them.    Furthermore,

we pride ourselves on being approachable and sympathetic to the needs of

the client in such matters and endeavour to be approachable and efficient in

dealing with the estate or otherwise providing such advice to the client as may

be required.   

We would be pleased to be of assistance to you in connection with any

matters relating to the administration of a deceased’s estate whether it be

obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration.   Please contact us by

telephone or in person or by email with your enquiries.  

Austin Ryder and Co is there to help you. 

Austin Ryder © 2009-2014 - authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA website www.sra.org.uk    European Commission platform for Consumer Disputes http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/  -  Vat No 232782366 Cookies