Help with Grants of Probate

You may have been appointed under the will of someone who has died to act as the executor, or one of the executors, of the estate.  If this is the case, then there is a possibility that you will be asked to provide a Grant of Probate. 

You may already know what a Grant of Probate is but are unsure whether to obtain this yourself or if you should instruct a solicitor to do it for you.  This article endeavours to answer some of those questions for you.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a document issued by the Probate Registry to the executors appointed in the will confirming they have the necessary authority to deal with the deceased’s assets.  A common misconception is that a Grant of Probate is not required if the deceased made a will.  This is not the case. 

Whether or not a Grant of Probate is required will depend upon the assets in the estate, such as a property in the deceased’s sole name.

Can I obtain a Grant of Probate myself?

The executors of an estate can obtain a Grant of Probate themselves directly through the government website.  However, care should be taken that all the relevant information has been obtained and accurately provided.  This will include the date of death value of the estate, details of lifetime gifts, working out the Inheritance Tax position and, if necessary, paying the relevant tax.

If there is any doubt as to the type of information required then, to avoid incurring penalties, executors should seek advice from a professional.

Should I instruct a Solicitor to obtain a Grant of Probate on my behalf?

Even if the estate is relatively simple, there may still be benefits to instructing a professional. 

Some of these advantages include:

Reassurance that the executors have declared accurate information and paid the correct amount of Inheritance Tax thereby avoiding penalties from HM Revenue & Customs.

Obtaining relevant advice about any potential claims against the estate.

To help minimise future risks to executors.

Providing peace of mind to the executors.

It is important to remember that a professional’s costs for obtaining the Grant of Probate are considered a testamentary expense of the estate, and can be paid from the deceased’s assets.

Should I instruct a Solicitor to collect and distribute the assets?

For those very simple estates, where there may be very few assets and only one beneficiary, the executors may not wish to instruct a professional.  However, for those larger value estates or estates where there are many beneficiaries, including charitable or non-charitable beneficiaries, assistance is advised.

Administering an estate can be very burdensome and worrying for some executors.  Instructing a professional to do this on behalf of the executors would alleviate some of those pressures.  It can be particularly onerous when dealing with charitable beneficiaries who can request additional information from the executors. 

In addition, executors may need to consider whether the estate has become subject to Capital Gains Tax or Income Tax during the administration period.

If the executors do not do their job correctly then this could leave them open to criticism by the beneficiaries and held personally liable.  To ensure this does not happen, a professional can be appointed to deal with the administration of the estate.  This would include collecting the assets, paying the debts and liabilities of the estate, assessing the tax position (in relation to Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, and Income Tax) preparing estate accounts and finally, distributing the balance to the beneficiaries.

If you require any help or advice in relation to an estate you are dealing with, then please do not hesitate to contact our probate team at Rutherfords LLP on 01827 311411 or [email protected].

Rebecca Taylor

Chartered Legal Executive

Contact us on: 01827 311 411 or [email protected]