The Grant Application
Once you have all valuations for the assets and liabilities in the estate as at the date of death, you have everything you need to begin putting together the application to obtain the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.
The Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration (collectively known as Grant of Representation) is the legal document issued by the Court (Probate Registry) providing the Executors, Administrators or Personal Representatives of the estate with the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s estate.
A Grant is not always required and there are some instances where the administration of an estate can be carried out without obtaining a Grant. For example:
- Where a property is held in joint names (joint tenants) and passes by survivorship to the other joint owner(s)
- Where there are joint bank accounts and only a death certificate is required in order to have the deceased’s name removed from the account and transferred into the survivors sole name
- Where the amount in any solely held bank accounts is small (banks and building societies have limits as to the value of assets that they will release without seeing a Grant)
There is a common misconception that you if you have a Will, a Grant of Probate will not be required, which is certainly not the case. The need for a Grant is dependent upon the types of assets in the estate and the value of those assets.
Where there is any property owned solely by the deceased or where they own a specified share in a property (as tenants in common), then a Grant will always be required in order to sell or transfer that property/share of that property.
For clarity, there are two ways of owning property and how the property is owned will depend upon how the property is dealt with upon death:
- Joint Tenants – this is where each owner owns the whole property and there are no defined shares. Upon the death of one owner, the property automatically passes to the surviving owner(s).
- Tenants in Common – this is where each owner owns a defined share of the property. When one owner passes away, their defined share will be dealt with in accordance with provisions in their Will or under intestacy and a Grant of Probate is required to deal with this share.
There are several elements required by the Probate Registry, which make up the Grant application as a whole:
- Completing the forms
As part of the application you must complete the relevant inheritance tax forms by including all details of the assets and liabilities in the estate.
There are two main forms:
IHT205 – This is the standard tax form and is used where there is no inheritance tax to be paid or where everything passes to the spouse of the person who has passed away.
IHT400 – This is the form used predominantly where there is inheritance tax due and is submitted along with the relevant schedules and supporting documents.
You will need to complete and submit tax forms for the estate regardless of whether there is likely to be tax due or not. It is important that all date of death figures are included in the forms and that the figures are as accurate as possible. There is a risk that you may get a penalty if any of the information on the form is inaccurate.
- Swearing the Oath.
The Oath is a document that contains all the necessary information to support the application and also sets out the legal requirements expected of the holder of the Grant (Executor/Administrator).
The Oath should be sworn at the office of a local solicitor or a commissioner of oaths and there is usually a charge of around £7 – £10 for swearing the document. The document is ultimately a promise that the information you have given is true to the very best of your knowledge.
Where the deceased has left a Will, this will also need to be taken along with the Oath and sworn.
It is important to note that the original Will is retained by the Probate Registry when the application is submitted.
- The application
Once you have completed all the relevant forms and have sworn the Oath and Will, you are then ready to submit the application to the Probate Registry. There are district probate registries and probate sub-registries around the country. You should generally submit the application to your nearest registry, however, there are no restrictions on which registry you submit the application to.
The Grant can take any from 2 – 4 weeks to receive back from the Probate Registry, assuming there are no complications with the application.