What is a Grant of Probate? UK Will Solicitors
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A 'Grant of Probate' is a document issued by the Probate Office which is part of the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom which confirms the authority of up to four individual people to act in the estate of a deceased person. The people who are authorised by the will to deal with the assets of the estate are called executors and their job is to gather in the assets of the estate and to distribute them to the beneficiaries after payment of the debts and liabilities, which includes all taxes due. Not all wills appoint an executor and those that don't become the subject of a Grant of Letters of Administration rather than a Grant of Probate. Most assets will be liquidated by the executor(s) which means they will be sold and the cash that is generated will be held in a trustee bank account or a solicitors client account until the time comes to distribute the assets in accordance with the wishes of the deceased person as outlined in the terms of the will. The authority of the executors is derived from the will and an executor may inter-meddle in the estate from the moment of death however any dealings by an executor must be in accordance with the law. An executor is also personally liable for financial losses to the beneficiaries of which the executor may be one. The purpose of a Grant of Probate is to prove to third parties who may hold assets belonging to the deceased that the executor does have legal authority and is entitled by law to deal with the assets. In most cases a third party will not co-operate with the executor until they have seen the Grant of Probate or a copy of the Grant of Probate that has been sealed by the Probate Office. In the case of very small sums of money held by a third party there may be no need for the beneficiaries to obtain a Grant of Probate and the monies may be simply released upon sight of a will or to the spouse or next of kin. A Grant of Probate is of no effect in the case of most jointly held real property which passes automatically to the other joint owners at the moment of death.
Upon receiving notification of the content of a will, those who have been appointed as executors are expected to preserve and look after the assets of the deceased person on behalf of the beneficiaries which may involve taking possession of valuable physical items or insuring real property that is part of the estate. Any executors that do not wish to become involved can decline the appointment in favour of any other executors who are usually beneficiaries. The first duty of an executor is to obtain a gross value of the estate and an estimate of all liabilities to come up with the net value which will be needed in order to apply for the Grant of Probate which is carried out by completion of standard forms supplied by the Registry. It is necessary to value assets and liabilities in order for the Capital Taxes Office to calculate any tax liability. The forms are lodged with the Registry together with the original will and after swearing an affidavit and paying any tax due, the court will appoint the executor by way of a sealed court document known as the Grant of Probate which will enable to executor to gather in and liquidate the assets. Once all liabilities have been discharged the balance may then be distributed in accordance with the terms of the will provided that no third party has made a court application to challenge the will or probate and no application for support has been received by potential dependants that were not beneficiaries under the will.
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