What Does Probate Mean?

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. 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.

A couple of 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.

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