A Grant of Representation is a legal document issued in the United Kingdom that gives the person named on it the authority to administer the estate and other assets of a deceased person. In simple terms, it is a document that proves that the person handling the deceased's assets has the legal right to do so.
There are two main types of Grants of Representation depending on the circumstances of the deceased person's estate and the relationship of the person applying for the Grant to the deceased.
This includes the Grant of Probate, which is issued when the deceased left a valid Will, and the Grant of Letters of Administration, which is issued when the deceased died intestate (without a valid Will). These Grants are issued by the Probate Registry and are usually required in order to be able to deal with the deceased person's assets, such as selling property or transferring money in bank accounts.
Understanding the basics of a Grant of Representation is important as it lays the foundation for the estate administration process.
What is estate administration?
Estate administration refers to the process of managing and distributing the assets of a deceased person.
The goal of estate administration is to pay off any debts or taxes the deceased person owed, and then to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the Will or, in the absence of a Will, according to the rules of intestacy.
Granting probate is only one step of the estate administration process.
How to obtain a Grant of Representation
Obtaining a Grant of Representation in the United Kingdom typically involves the following steps:
- Identify the type of Grant needed: If the deceased left a valid will, a Grant of Probate will be needed. If the deceased did not leave a will, a Grant of Letters of Administration will be needed.
- Gather the necessary documents: This includes the original Will (if one exists), a death certificate, and any other relevant documents such as property deeds or bank statements.
- Complete the necessary forms: The forms required will depend on the type of Grant being applied for. The forms can be obtained from the Probate Registry.
- Pay the relevant fees: There are fees associated with applying for a Grant of Representation; if the estate is valued £5,000 or more, the application fee is £273, however if the estate is valued less than £5,000, there is no fee. There is funding available for those on low incomes or certain state benefits.
- Submit the forms and documents: Once the forms are completed, they must be submitted along with the necessary documents to the Probate Registry.
- Obtain probate insurance: This is an optional step, but it protects the Executors from any claims that may arise from the administration of the estate after the Grant of probate is issued.
It is important to note that the process of obtaining a Grant of Representation can be complex and time-consuming, and it may be beneficial to seek the assistance of a professional. Some choose to instruct a probate Solicitor or another provider that can help with the paperwork, advise on the legal requirements, and represent you in court if needed.
Do you always need a Grant of Representation?
Not always – a Grant of Representation is only needed if the deceased person's estate includes assets that cannot be easily transferred without one.
For example, if the deceased person owned property or had money in a bank account that is only in their name, a Grant of Representation will be needed in order to transfer property ownership or access the funds. However, if the deceased person's estate is small or if all assets are jointly owned, a Grant of Representation may not be required. For example, if the deceased person's only asset was a jointly owned bank account, the surviving joint owner would be able to access the funds without a Grant of Representation.
It's also important to mention that even if a Grant of Representation is not strictly necessary to deal with certain assets, some financial institutions will have their own thresholds and may require one before they will release funds, so it's always worth checking with the relevant parties.
If assets can be managed without a Grant of Representation (e.g. a bank account is below the institution’s threshold) then a Small Estates Declaration document can be provided to confirm that a Grant is not necessary.
What is an Executor of a Will?
An Executor is a person named in a Will who is responsible for carrying out the instructions and wishes of the person who wrote the Will (the Testator). The role of an Executor typically includes:
- Collecting and managing the assets of the deceased person, such as property, life insurance, etc.
- Paying any outstanding debts and taxes.
- Identifying and locating the beneficiaries named in the Will.
- Distributing the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the Will.
- Filing any necessary legal documents, such as the Grant of Representation, to gain access to the deceased person's assets.
The role of an Executor can be complex and time-consuming, and it is important that the person named as Executor is willing and able to take on the responsibilities. If the person named as Executor is unwilling or unable to serve, the court may appoint someone else.
How long does it take for a Grant of Representation to be granted?
The length of time it takes for a Grant of Representation to be granted can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the estate, the number of beneficiaries, and how quickly the necessary forms and documents are submitted to the Probate Registry.
On average, the process of obtaining a Grant of Representation can take up to sixteen weeks, but it can take longer if there are complications or disputes to be resolved., such as a Will contest or if there are multiple beneficiaries – this can lead to the process taking several months. Additionally, HMCTS backlogs can lead to a delay in obtaining the Grant.
It's important to keep in mind that the Grant of Representation is only one step in the estate administration process and it is just the beginning. After that, there are other steps to be taken such as paying off any debts, dealing with taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries, which can take additional time.
Should you use a probate provider to help gain a Grant of Representation?
It depends on your specific situation and needs. A probate provider can help you navigate the legal process of gaining a Grant of Representation and assist with the paperwork, but they may also charge a fee for their services.
If you are comfortable handling the process on your own, it may not be necessary to use a probate provider.
However, if you are unsure of the legal requirements or have a complex estate, it may be beneficial to seek professional assistance. It's always a good idea to do your own research and obtain quotes from multiple providers before making any decisions.
Kings Court Trust is a probate and estate administration provider that offers award-winning solutions to support every family.
Whether you need a hand obtaining the Grant of Representation, completing the complicated tax and legal work, or anything in between, you’re in safe hands with our team of specialists.
If you have any questions about the estate administration process, including applying for the Grant of Representation, call our Client Services Team on 0300 303 9000 or fill in the form below.