When a loved one dies, it is generally the job of the executor of their will or their next of kin to apply for what’s known as a ‘grant of representation’, so they can administer the estate.
This is a general term referring to a legal order issued by the probate registry, allowing you to take charge of distributing the estate of the person who has died (in Scotland it is known as a confirmation).
In this article, we’ll take you through how these grants work, which type you’re likely to need, and how to apply for one.
What is a grant of representation?
When a person dies, a grant of representation gives someone the authority to manage their estate and make sure everything is passed on as intended. If there is a will, then it is this person’s job to make sure that its instructions are followed.
Once a grant has been obtained, the executor (otherwise known as the administrator in some cases) has the power to exchange property documents, close bank accounts, sell shares, and of course, pass on assets.
A death certificate is usually enough for banks and other financial institutions to allow you to view the accounts of the deceased, which is usually necessary for valuing the estate. However, they will only allow you to actually access their accounts and withdraw money once you have the documentation to prove you have been awarded a grant of representation.
Do I need a grant of representation?
A grant of representation is usually needed in the case where the estate is mostly made up of solely-owned assets (that is, assets not owned by anyone else) and which are worth at least £10,000.
It may not be needed if the estate is either valued at less than this, or is mainly made up of cash, jointly owned assets, or there are debts that exceed the value of the assets.
Which grant of representation do I need?
The two main kinds of grant of representation are a grant of probate and a grant of letters of administration.
If the person who has died left a will and named you as one of their executors, you can apply for a grant of probate. This generally means you are taking on the responsibility of making sure all of the person’s assets go where they are supposed to, as well as settling any other financial matters. Usually, the person who’s died will have agreed this with you in advance.
Read more about obtaining probate and how it works in our article What is probate?
Letters of administration
If the person who has died did not leave a will and you are their next of kin, you’ll need to apply for a grant of letters of administration. The next of kin in this case is defined as the person who stands to inherit the most under the rules of intestacy – you can read more about this, and how the estate will be distributed, in our article Sorting out an estate when someone dies without a will.
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If you are the next of kin but you do not wish to administer the estate, you can nominate someone else to do so on your behalf.
How to apply for a grant of representation
Applying for probate
If there is a will in place, you can apply for probate by filling in the PA1P form.
There will be a £273 fee if you live in England or Wales and the estate is valued at at least £5,000. It will cost you £1.50 for extra copies of the probate document, but these will be useful to have for sending to different financial organisations. Learn more about the full cost of executing a will in our article Probate fees – what you’ll pay to sort out someone’s financial affairs.
If you are not confident filling in a probate application, you can seek help from a solicitor or from the government’s probate helpline.
Applying for letters of administration
Applying for confirmation (Scotland only)
To apply for confirmation for an estate, you’ll need to fill in a C1 form, or a C2 form if the person died before 2022.
How long does it take to get a grant of representation?
The timeframe for getting a grant of representation will vary depending on the size of the estate, but it will rarely take longer than 30 days.
Once you have been awarded a grant of representation, you can immediately start managing the finances of the person who has died. This process tends to take several months or sometimes longer than a year, depending on how complicated their circumstances are.
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