Probate!  What is it?


Probate can be defined simply as the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money, and possessions when they die as per their Will.

The more technical definition is that it is the official “proving” of the Will in a Court of Law, where it is accepted as the true Last Will and Testament of the deceased and thereby becomes a valid public document.

When the Will has been “proved” then you are provided with a Grant of Probate from the Court.

Over the years the term “Probate” has become commonly used to refer to any Grant of Representation issued by the Court following a death, which is required in many estates to complete the administration process.  However, its true term is to refer to the proving of the Will.

What if there is no Will?

When a deceased leaves no valid Will, the estate falls under the intestacy provisions, which provides strict rules for who is to deal with the estate and where the assets are to be distributed.  It still goes through the Court, as you have to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration to show your legal right to administer the estate.

When is “Probate” needed?

You need a Grant of Representation (“Probate”) to administer an estate when the deceased leaves Property or land, shares, or any assets worth more than £5,000.  However, it is worth noting, these days, many banks will allow you to withdraw more than £5,000 by completing a “Small Estates Indemnity Declaration Form” as the legal monetary limit has not changed in over 100 years.

How do I get Probate?

Unfortunately, in recent times the local Probate Registries and Courts have closed, and the process has moved to a centralised system.

You can obtain Probate in two ways;

  1. Instruct a Solicitor or Professional to obtain Probate for you and/or deal with the whole estate administration.
  2. Apply for Probate yourself online – and create an online government account. (Similar to completing a Self-Assessment Tax Return).  Please ensure that you use the Official Government Website (link above).

How long does Probate take?

Unfortunately, due to the closure of the local Probate Registries and Courts, coupled with the COVID pandemic, Probate timescales have been severely affected.  Probate used to take approximately 3 weeks, but now it is at least a minimum of 8 weeks and can be much longer for some.

Contact us today for expert advice on any probate matter.

Ginette McCaffery  Solicitor Specialising in Wills, Probate and Trusts


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