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Quick guide to probate services

Andy Stevens / 16 September 2015

Not sure about probate? Read our guide to find out about the process – including what it is, how long it can take and the professional help available.

Pile of papers
Probate can be quite complicated and time consuming if the deceased's affairs are not in order

If you're named as an executor of someone's Will, you will require a legal document called a grant of probate that gives you the right to sort out their affairs.

Proof of probate is often required when dealing with banks and other financial institutions, local authorities, tax and pensions, insurance and estate agents, if you are selling a property. 

In most cases, the relevant institution will need to see the grant of probate before transferring control of the assets.

How long will the probate process take?

Probate can be a lengthy process, depending on the size, value and complexity of someone's estate but it is much easier if that person has made a Will.

If there isn't a Will, sorting out someone's affairs can become much more complicated, time consuming and costly.

Can I get a professional to help me?

There are two types of probate service available, depending upon your needs:

Full Estate Administration

A Full Estate Administration service deals with every aspect of probate.

This includes:

  • Registering the death with the asset holders.

  • Requesting date of death valuations.

  • Preparing the legal paperwork, including Inland Revenue forms and executor's/administrator's oath).

  • Obtaining the grant and registering the same with the asset holders.

  • Collecting in all assets and closing down accounts.

  • Paying all liabilities.

  • Finalising the tax position.

  • Paying any legacies.

  • Distributing the monies in accordance with the will or rules of intestacy.

The provider will advise you of your various obligations and what you can do to minimise your responsibilities, and ensure they are carried out properly.

Grant Only

A Grant Only probate service means you supply the administrator with all the information. These may include:

  • What assets belonged to the deceased.

  • What debts they owed.

The administrator of a Grant Only service will prepare the legal paperwork for you, including Inland Revenue forms and executor's/administrator's oath.

Once obtained and completed, the grant is then handed over to you to deal with. 

At this point, you can then register with the banks, close down accounts, pay off all liabilities, settle all taxes and distribute the monies in accordance with the Will or rules of Intestacy.

In this case, responsibility for making sure all figures are correct remains with you. It is also your responsibility, rather than that of the administrator, to make sure that the administration is dealt with correctly, the tax position is properly finalised, all debts are discovered and paid, and that all distributions are carried out and done correctly.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.