What’s the difference between a grant of probate and a grant of letters of administration?

15th FEBRUARY 2021

The collective term for a grant of probate and a grant of letters of administration, is a grant of representation. A grant of representation is a legal document that gives the owner legal authority to deal with someone’s estate and assets after they pass away. A grant of probate is required when there is a will, while a grant of letters of administration is required when someone dies without leaving a will.

For free initial advice call our probate advisors or request a callback and we will contact you.

Grant of Probate

A grant of probate is required when someone dies who has left a will with a named executor. If you are the executor, you will be responsible for applying for a grant of probate and for handling the estate once the grant has been acquired.

All banks and financial institutions have different limits on how much money they can release from someone’s account without needing to see a grant of probate. This can vary from £5,000-£50,000. If you loved one’s estate has a higher value than these limits, you will need a grant of probate before you can access the funds. Probate is required after approximately 50% of all deaths in the UK, so it’s important to figure out whether this is relevant to you before you apply.

The application process involves filling out an application form and an inheritance tax form and sending them both to the probate registry. Once the registry has confirmed that you haven’t made any mistakes, they will send you the grant of probate in the post and you can get on with the estate administration.

Probate can be frustrating and time-consuming, sometimes taking several years to complete. For this reason, when someone writes a will, they are encouraged to name someone who they trust and who they think could handle the responsibility. However, if you don’t feel up to the task, you can refuse to take on the role or you can hire a professional to help you, such as a solicitor or a professional probate service. Kwil offers a grant-only service in which we obtain the grant of probate for you, and a full estate administration service in which we obtain the grant of probate and administer the estate for you. You can pay for these services using funds from the deceased’s estate; you will never be expected to pay out of pocket for anything relating to your role as executor.

If the main executor is unable to apply for a grant of probate or has refused to apply, the next of kin is responsible for applying for a grant of letters of administration instead.

Grant of Letters of Administration

If someone dies without leaving a will and their funds are above the threshold for probate, someone will need to apply for a grant of letters of administration in order to administer the estate. The person who is responsible for this is the next of kin of the deceased, or whoever stands to inherit the most from the estate according to the rules of intestacy.

There can be some difficulty here if multiple family members put forward a claim to inherit the estate and there is disagreement over who should be the administrator. This is particularly true in complicated, non-nuclear family compositions. For example, if the deceased had children with multiple partners or if they were divorced and with someone new but were unmarried at their time of death. If this is the case, the court can get involved to sort the situation out, but this can be expensive and will significantly prolong the process.

Applying for a grant of letters of administration is very similar to applying for a grant of probate and so is the estate administration. Kwil’s probate packages extend to those who need to apply for a grant of letters of administration, and our friendly legal experts are entirely able to handle the process for you in a timely and professional manner.

For free initial advice call our probate advisors or request a callback and we will contact you.

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