When someone dies they may or may not have left a will. In the case of someone who dies having written a properly named will with a named executor or executors, then if you are the executor you need to consider whether you need to get probate. If you do, you’ll first need a Grant of Representation. The Grant, which is obtained by application to your local Probate Registry Office, gives you the legal authority to administer all the affairs of the deceased’s estate.
In the case of someone who dies without a will, or intestate as it’s called, someone, usually a close relative, will need to take on the role of administrator. The administrator will need to apply to a Probate Registry office for Letters of Administration which, like a Grant of Representation, gives the administrator the legal authority to deal with the affairs of the deceased’s estate.
You will need to get probate if the net value of the estate is more than £5,000. The net value is calculated by working out the value of the estate’s assets including any property, personal possessions such as artworks or antiques, vehicles and cash as well as any paper assets like stocks and shares. Then any outstanding debts, the cost of the funeral and the cost of solicitor’s fees are added up and subtracted from the assets to give a net figure.
If the final net worth of the estate is in excess of £5,000, then you must get probate. If you have been named as an executor in the will, or if you are taking on the role of administrator in the case of someone who has died intestate, then you need to make a written application to your nearest Probate Registry office. You will then be asked to attend the office in person to swear an oath that the information in the application form is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.
Although it is perfectly possible to handle the probate process on your own you may decide to engage a solicitor to handle the matter for you, especially in the case of larger or more complex estates.
If the estate’s value falls below the £5,000 threshold, then you can deal with the estate by presenting the death certificate which you obtain from a Register Office. When you do this, it’s wise to buy extra certified copies of the certificate as various agencies will want to see it and they will not accept photocopies you’ve made yourself.