Procedure for obtaining a grant of probate

By Tolley in association with Higgs & Sons

The following Trusts and Inheritance Tax guidance note by Tolley in association with Higgs & Sons provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Procedure for obtaining a grant of probate
  • Requirement for a grant of representation
  • The application procedure
  • STEP 1 – Identifying the assets and liabilities
  • STEP 2 – Value the assets and liabilities to ascertain the IHT position
  • STEP 3 – Completing the IHT forms
  • STEP 4 – The Probate Registry
  • The oath
  • Further information

The procedure by which access is gained to the deceased's assets is often referred to as 'obtaining probate'. Authority to deal with the deceased's affairs is given by a grant, an official document which may be a Grant of Probate, or possibly some other type of grant depending on the circumstances (see below). The more general term is a 'grant of representation'.

Requirement for a grant of representation

A grant of representation authorises the personal representatives (PRs) to administer the estate of the deceased person named on the grant. It provides evidence to third parties, such as banks and other asset holders, that those named on the grant now represent the deceased. In the majority of estates it will be necessary to apply for a grant in order to gain access to the deceased’s assets.

However, where an estate is particularly small financial institutions may transfer assets to the personal representatives without sight of a grant. Under the Administration of Estates (Small Payments) Act 1965 (as amended) for deaths on, or after, 10 May 1984, the maximum amount transferable without a grant should not exceed £5,000. It is worth noting however that no asset holder is bound to pay any amount without seeing the grant. On the other hand, banks are known to release funds in excess of £5,000 on the strength of a Statutory Declaration by the PRs.

A grant of representation will not be needed for assets which the deceased held jointly with another as joint tenants. Such property will pass to the surviving joint owner by survivorship rather than being part of the deceased’s estate and passing under the terms of the will or by the rules of intestacy. Other assets may also not vest in the personal representatives, eg life policies that are subject to a trust set up by the deceased during his lifetime and lump-sum

More on Application for probate: