Probate is the process of officially proving the validity of a will, but the following information applies equally where the deceased person died without leaving a will in which case the grant is called 'letters of administration'.
These terms refer to a legal document which allows the person(s) named in it to collect in and distribute the estate (property, money, possessions and so on) of a deceased person.
The grant is proof that a person, or persons, named in it are entitled to collect in and distribute the monies or other assets of the deceased and may be produced to those organisations (banks, building societies and so on) holding such assets.
It may not be necessary to obtain a grant in the following cases:
- where a home is held in joint names and is passing by survivorship to the other joint owner
- where a joint bank or building society account is held, production of a death certificate may be sufficient for the monies to be transferred to the joint holder
- certain institutions may release monies without a grant being produced if the amount held by the deceased was small. Apply to the institution to see if they will release monies without a grant
- contact a solicitor who will arrange this for you - you will find local firms of solicitors listed in the Yellow Pages
- do it yourself. If you wish to do it yourself, please call the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline 0845 3020 900 or visit the Probate Service information page.
For general information on preparing a will and the consequences of passing away without having made one, as well as a flow chart stating the laws of intestacy, visit the Making a Will website.