Who is eligible to apply for probate?

You may need to petition for probate before you can deal with a loved one's estate after they pass away, but only certain people can handle the probate application. We'll look at who is eligible to apply and how you can get started right away.

Lydia Blake avatar

Lydia Blake

07 January 2022

Probate is necessary in about half of all deaths in the United Kingdom, and it can be required whether or not the deceased individual left a will.

If a will exists, the executor is normally in charge of obtaining a grant of probate. In the absence of a will, the person who stands to inherit the most (referred to as the administrator) applies for letters of administration.

We'll go over this in greater detail below so you can figure out who needs to apply for probate in your scenario.

If there is a will, who can apply for probate?

If the person who died made a will and nominated you as an executor, you can petition for probate. It's customary for the person making a will to inform their executors of their appointment, but double-check the will to be sure. A grant of probate is the document you'll get at the end of this procedure.

If the executors designated in the will have died, the court will have to appoint an administrator. Again, depending on what's left in the will, this is frequently the beneficiary who stands to inherit the most.

If the executors designated in the will have lost mental capacity, such as if they have dementia, you may have to go through a similar procedure. If there are no remaining executors with mental capacity, the court will appoint an administrator. This could be a person with power of attorney for an executor who lacks capacity, or a person authorised by the Court of Protection to file an application.

You can petition the court to have the executors of the estate removed if the executors specified in the will refuse to apply for probate. This is normally handled by a close family who stands to inherit the most, such as the deceased's partner or adult child.

If the deceased person did not leave a will, who can file for probate?

Someone will need to apply for a grant of letters of administration if probate is necessary but there is no will. Under the norms of intestacy, a collection of traditional laws specifying what happens to your inheritance when you die without a will, this is usually the individual who stands to inherit the most. If the deceased person had a live spouse or civil partner, the application will be handled by them.

If the spouse or civil partner has died or is unable to apply for the grant, the application must be submitted by another family member. Based on their relationship with the individual who died, you can see who commonly bears responsibility next in the list below:

  • Children (or grandkids over the age of 18 if children have died) (this includes any children adopted by the deceased person but excludes step-children)

  • Parents

  • Siblings (or nieces and nephews over 18 if siblings have died)

  • Siblings who are half-brothers and half-sisters (or nieces and nephews over 18 if half-siblings have died)

  • Grandparents

  • Uncles or aunts

  • Aunts and uncles' children (cousins)

What are the responsibilities of the executor or administrator?

The personal representative (also known as the executor or administrator of the estate) is in charge of petitioning for probate and distributing the estate to beneficiaries. This can include, but is not limited to, the following steps:

  • Locating any financial records that belonged to the deceased

  • Sending a copy of the death certificate to banks, building societies, the Land Registry, share registrars, and other financial institutions where the deceased person's money is held.

  • requesting that banks place a hold on accounts so that no money can be taken without proper legal permission

  • Establishing a bank account in the name of the estate

  • Obtaining information about any money owed to the deceased

  • Obtaining information about any money or debts owing by the deceased

  • Making a detailed account of the estate's property, money and goods, and debts

  • calculating the amount of inheritance tax due and making arrangements to pay it

  • If you're asking for probate on your own, you'll need to prepare and transmit the necessary documentation to the probate register and HM Revenue and Customs.

  • Collecting money from any banks, building societies, insurance companies, and pensions that make up the estate after receiving the grant of probate (or grant of letters of administration).

  • Transferring property and shares to beneficiaries or selling them

  • Debts, expenditures, and fees, such as lawyers' fees, are paid out of the estate.

  • Distribution of the estate according to the will or intestacy regulations

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