Probate Advice Line
Who Needs Probate?
Probate is generally required to enable a person’s assets (property, money and possessions) to be distributed following their death.
If the person who has died leaves a Will:
In this case one or more 'Executors' may be named in the Will to deal with the person's affairs after their death. The Executor applies for a 'Grant of Probate' from a section of the court known as the Probate Registry. The Grant is a legal document which confirms that the Executor(s) has the authority to deal with the deceased person's assets. They can use it to show they have the right to access funds, sort out finances, and collect and share out the deceased person's assets as set out in the Will.
If the person who has died didn't leave a Will:
If there is no Will, a close relative of the deceased can apply to the probate registry to deal with the estate. In this case , they apply for a 'Grant of Letters of Administration'. If the Grant is given, they are known as 'Administrators' of the estate. Like the Grant of Probate, the Grant of Letters of Administration is a legal document which confirms the Administrator's authority to deal with the deceased person's assets.
Even if there is just one asset in the sole name of the deceased, it is likely that Probate could still be required. However, each case is unique and sometimes probate may not be needed, for example:
- where assets such as a property are in joint names - called joint tenancy. In these cases, the asset passes automatically to the surviving joint owner. However, most property is nowadays held as "tenants in common" and in these cases probate is always required.
- the person who has died has left very little (usually less than £5,000).