UK Probate Law – What is it and how does it effect an inheritance?
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When someone dies in the UK, the first port of call in deciding who will be in charge of dividing up the estate will be the “Executor”. An executor is someone named within the will and testament of the deceased who is meant to be in charge of their affairs after their death. So, you’d think it would be very simple to decide who is in charge of an estate, wouldn’t you?
Unfortunately, there are all sorts of circumstances under which this might become more difficult. For instance, what happens when there is no will? or when the will does not name an executor?
This is where Probate law comes in – it is the section of the law devoted to issuing legal documents that authorise people to collect money, pay debts and distribute an estate on the behalf of the deceased.
A document authorising someone to represent the estate of the deceased is called a “grant representation” or a “grant” for short and in the UK is issued by the Probate Registry.
There are three different types of grant representation that allow people to represent an estate:
Probate is the simplest form of grant representation. It is basically the legal document given to an executor named within the will of the deceased in order to authorise them to deal with the estate.
If you are named as an executor within the will of the deceased then you simply obtain probate and begin your role as executor.
2. Letters of Administration (with a will)
When there is a will but no executor is named or for any other reason the executor cannot fulfil their role. They may be unable to or they may simply not wish to. In this case a Letter of Administration will be needed for someone who is not a named executor to take charge of the state.
3. Letters of Administriation (without a will)
When the deceased has not made a will or the will is invalid then a Letter of Administration will be needed by anyone seeking to take charge of the estate. As with any other form of grant, this will be granted by the Probate Registry after you have applied.
Hopefully this has cleared up some of the confusion surrounding probate law. In future articles I will be dealing with the reasons when a grant is needed and the specific forms and procedures you will need to complete in order to claim a grant.