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What is probate?

Posted on Tuesday, 25th June 2013 by

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

‘Probate’ is a term used commonly when discussing the right to handle a deceased person’s affairs. A ‘grant of representation’ may be applied for when someone dies, giving you the legal right to deal with their money, property and possessions, also known as their estate. This right to handle the estate is called ‘Probate’. Probate usually (circumstances depending) takes around 6-9 months to complete.


A solicitor can apply for this for you, or you can do it yourself. Your solicitor would do the following for you:

  • Check if there is a will – this normally stipulates who gets to handle the estate. If it does not state this, the next of kin can apply to.
  • Apply to get a ‘grant of representation’ – the person’s bank account can be accessed along with other legal assets if this is granted.
  • Pay Inheritance Tax – If the estate is worth over £325,000 and is part of applying for a grant of representation – this should be paid. Assets can be collected after this, for example, selling of a house.
  • Pay debts off – for example, unpaid utility bills
  • Distribute the estate – people that are entitled to the estate, ‘beneficiaries’, must be given their shares.


There are two types of grant. These are 1) The Grant of Probate – where there is a will, and 2) Letters of Administration – where there is not a will.


You do not need a grant if the estate passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner because it was held in joint names, for example a savings account, or does not include land, property or any shares.


You can apply for a grant of representation yourself, or you can use a solicitor. There are four steps to this:


  • Complete a probate application form
  • Complete an Inheritance Tax form
  • Send off your application
  • Swear on oath – this is a promise that the information you have given is true to the best of your knowledge. A grant usually comes through the post within 10 working days after the swearing on oath.


For more help on Probate matters, contact Edward Hands & Lewis’ Wills & Probate team.

Emma Fuller is head of the private client team at EHL; our solicitors in Loughborough are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Loughborough please contact us.

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The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

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Emma Fuller - Wills, Probate and LPA
Emma Fuller - Wills, Probate and LPA
emma.f@ehlsolicitors.co.uk 01509 212 108
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