Jurisdiction in probate matters

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Jurisdiction in probate matters
  • Role of the court
  • Probate jurisdiction
  • Probate jurisdiction—Family Division
  • Right of interpretation—Family Division
  • Non-contentious probate business
  • Contentious probate business
  • Probate rules
  • Fees
  • Method of application and territorial limitations
  • More...

Jurisdiction in probate matters

Role of the court

The High Court has jurisdiction in relation to probates and letters of administration, in particular all contentious and non-contentious jurisdiction relating to:

  1. testamentary causes and matters

  2. the grant, amendment or revocation of probates and letters of administration, and

  3. the real and personal estates of deceased persons

Probate jurisdiction

The probate jurisdiction of the High Court is divided between the Family Division and the Chancery Division (and county court).

The Family Division deals with non-contentious or common form probate business and the Chancery Division deals with contentious or solemn form probate business. See Practice Note: What are common and solemn form probate?

Probate jurisdiction—Family Division

There are three main issues:

  1. whether a document is admissible to probate

  2. who is entitled to a grant of representation

  3. whether a grant already made should be revoked

Right of interpretation—Family Division

To grant representation the Family Division may consider the terms of testamentary documents to determine a point of construction but is not bound to do so. Instead, it may use its discretionary power to make a grant to a suitable person, leaving the question of construction to be decided in the Chancery Division, that being the proper court of construction.

Prior to 1 January 1983 there was no statutory guidance to assist in the interpretation of Wills. Now there are general rules as to the admission of evidence

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