Probate in the UK

What is probate?

To explain what Probate is and the procedures we have used the example of the United Kingdom legal process.

‘Probate’ is a term commonly used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs. It’s sometimes called ‘administering the estate’. This page contains information about what to expect if a loved one’s estate is in probate.

In practice, different terms are used, depending on whether or not the deceased person left a will and where they lived. This information covers probate in England and Wales.

Different terms associated with probate

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 knows as the probate registry. The grant is a legal document which confirms that the executor has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets (property, money and possessions). 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.

In some cases, for example, where the person who benefits is a child, the law states that more than one person must act as the administrator.

If the person who died lived in Scotland

If the deceased person lived in Scotland you apply for a ‘grant of confirmation’.

Personal representative

This is a general term which means executor or administrator.

Grant of representation

This is a general term which includes grants of probate and grants of letters of administration

Is a grant of probate/representation always needed? When a grant is needed

A grant is almost always needed when the person who dies leaves one or more of the following:

  • £5,000.
  • stocks or shares.
  • certain insurance policies.
  • property or land held in their own name or as ‘tenants in common’.

In most cases above, the bank or relevant institution will need to see the grant before transferring control of the assets. However if the estate is small some organisations, such as insurance companies and building societies, may release the money to you at their discretion.)

When a grant may not be needed

A grant of representation may not be needed where:

  • the person who died left less than £5,000.
  • they owned everything jointly with someone else and everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner.

To establish whether the assets can be obtained without a grant, the executor or administrator would need to write to each institution informing them of the death and enclosing a photocopy of the death certificate (and will if there is one).

4.Carrying out Legal Services

– the term “Legal Services” ONLY applies to services offered in the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom and NOT in the jurisdiction of Emirate of Dubai.

  1. A Member must comply with his/her instructions with reasonable skill, care and expedition appropriate to the need of the client. Where there is any delay the Member must promptly advise the client of the reason for it

  2. Where a matter is beyond a Member’s competence the Member must advise the client to seek alternative legal or other advice

  3. A Member must generally display and observe proper standards of professional courtesy

  4. In taking instructions it is the Member’s duty to establish that the client is acting freely, without coercion with a full understanding of the transaction and is of testamentary or other appropriate capacity
  1. A Member should have in place a written complaints procedure to accord with that recommended by the Society

  2. A Member should ensure that all complaints are dealt with speedily, equitably and sympathetically

  3. If complaints cannot be resolved between the Member and the Member’s client within a reasonable time then the Member shall advise the Society of the complaint and will accept the Society’s ruling thereon. The Member shall advise the client that he/she has referred the complaint to the Society
6.Business promotion
  1. A Member may advertise the Member’s practice and seek to obtain directly or indirectly clients in any manner and through any medium provided that the good reputation of the Society is not damaged and the British Code of Advertising Practice and other regulatory codes in force from time to time are not breached

  2. In particular any advertising or promotional material shall be truthful, in good taste such as will be unlikely to cause offence to any other person and shall contain no disparaging statements, express or implied, about any other Member

  3. The Society must approve before publication all advertising and promotional material produced by a Member which carries the Society’s logo
7.Disciplinary Procedure
  1. Any breach of this Code of Conduct may result in disciplinary proceedings being instigated against the Member

  2. The Society’s disciplinary procedures are set forth in its Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures which are deemed to be incorporated herein and which have been seen and agreed to by the Member