When a person dies, somebody has to deal with the estate by collecting the deceased’s assets together, paying funeral expenses and debts and then distributing what is left to those people entitled to it. To ensure that this happens according to the appropriate laws and to limit the responsibility of organisations holding assets (banks, building societies, and insurance companies) the Court issues a grant of representation, commonly known as probate.
Grants of representation take one of three forms depending on the circumstances:
• Probate when there is a will and executors named in the will are applying.
• Letters of Administration with will annexed when there is a will but no executors are named, or the executors named are unable or unwilling to apply for probate.
• Letters of Administration when no will has been left or a will is not valid.
The number of estates requiring a grant of representation continues to increase. It is at the discretion of organisations to release money when the asset is less than £5000, but when stocks and shares or land is involved, you must obtain a grant. In general an organisation holding assets will make it clear if they require a grant when you inform them of the death.