grant of probate in england and wales

How to get Probate in England and Wales

­­What is Probate?

When someone dies owning assets in England and Wales you may need to go through a process called Probate to obtain the legal authority to handle the deceased’s estate and release and distribute the assets the deceased owned.

Everything that was under the deceased’s ownership, their estate, includes ‘immovable’ assets such as land and property, and ‘movable’ assets such as cash, shares and material objects.

Probate with or without a will?

  • If a will has been left: the executor(s) will need to apply for a Grant of Probate
  • If a will has not been left: the next of kin will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration
    • As there is no will to name an executor, the next of kin will become the administrator of the will, and will handle the estate of the deceased.

The generic name for a Grant of Probate and Grant of Letters of Administration is a Grant of Representation (which can mean either a Grant of Probate or a Grants of Letters of Administration).

The generic name for the person entitled to deal with the deceased’s estate is Personal Representative (which can mean either an Executor or an Administrator). 

The Grant of Representation (whether a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration) is what gives the Personal Representative(s) the legal authority to carry out actions on behalf of the deceased.

When do I need Probate? ­

  • In the case that the deceased owned property or land, probate is required to transfer the ownership of these assets.
  • The deceased has a bank account or shares; the bank, building society or share registrar where their money/shares are held will often require a grant of probate for you to access the accounts.
    • Probate is, however, required only if the bank account contains an amount that is over the threshold set by the bank or building society. If the bank account only contains a small amount of money, probate may not be required.

How do I get Probate in England?

Getting a grant of probate can often be a complex process that requires different forms of certifications. If you need a grant of probate in England and Wales then Worldwide Lawyers is here to help. We offer a range of legal services, including Probate, and other legal matters relating to wills and handling of a deceased estate. Call us on 01244 470 339 or email us at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk.

Can you use an overseas Grant of Probate in the UK?

If the person who died did not live permanently in the UK, a Grant of Probate (or equivalent document) may have already been obtained in the country where the deceased person lived.

The UK does not recognise foreign Grants of Probate, however if the foreign Grant was obtained in another Commonwealth county, it may be possible to ‘reseal’ the foreign grant in the UK.

Resealing a foreign grant of probate in England is quicker that applying for a new English Grant. Check out our easy guide of 5 Steps to getting a Grant of Probate resealed in the UK.

Can I contest a Will in the UK?

If you believe you have been left out of the will of a person who died domiciled in England and Wales or if you feel that your gift in the will does not adequately provide the financial support you need, you may be able to contest the deceased’s will. You are able to do this in the UK by making a claim under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (‘the Inheritance Act’).

Similarly, if the deceased did not make a will and this has meant that you are struggling financially, you may also be able to make an Inheritance Act claim.

If you would like more information, read our guide to contesting a will in the UK.

If the person who died did not live permanently in the UK or in another Commonwealth country then the deceased person will need to make an application for a Grant of Representation where the deceased was not domiciled in the UK. Worldwide Lawyers will be delighted to put you in touch with a lawyer who can assist you with this. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01244 470 339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk.

You may also be interested in…

Foreign deceased with UK assets

Four things to consider when dealing with estates with beneficiaries abroad

Author: Sara Janion, overseas legal expert, solicitor and Notary Public