After someone dies, with or without leaving a Will, their money, property and belongings need to be dealt with and administered to beneficiaries.

If you are an executor of the Will (or an administrator, if the deceased died without a Will), then it is your duty to identify the assets and debts of the estate and distribute them.

Depending on the size of the estate and the kinds of assets in it, you may need to apply for a grant of representation (in England & Wales) or for confirmation (in Scotland).

A grant of probate lets you gain access to the assets of an estate in order to carry out the wishes of the deceased. For more information on probate see Lawpack’s DIY Probate Kit.


When is a grant of probate required?

Normally, you need a grant of representation or confirmation if the value of the deceased’s estate (after paying the funeral account) is over £5,000.

These days, banks and building societies impose their own discretionary limit upon when they need a grant of probate or confirmation.

For example, if the deceased only left a nominal sum of cash, say £1,000, personal items having a high market value and a very expensive car, there is no need for you to apply for a grant of probate or confirmation because you, as the executor or administrator, need no formal proof of your authority to gather in and distribute these assets.

But, even if you don’t need a grant of probate, it may be better for you to obtain one in any event where the assets are high in value, to protect you and the executors and ensure that you are distributing the estate correctly.

On the other hand, if the deceased had a bank account and shares with a net value of over £15,000, or if the deceased’s home needs to be sold or transferred to a beneficiary, a grant will be necessary so you, as executor, can obtain formal authority to gather in and deal with these assets.

Payments automatically due on death

When someone dies, certain authorities can pay sums to the person entitled under a Will or intestacy (i.e. where there isn’t a Will) without needing to see a grant.

But the amount payable (normally) has to be less than £5,000.

These assets include:

  • National Savings Also includes prizes won on Premium Bonds.
  • Building society accounts Also includes deposits with friendly societies, trade union deposits of members, arrears of salary or pension due to government or local government employees and police and firemen’s pensions.
  • Nominated property
    Pre-1981 National Savings investments and government stock which could be nominated for someone else to receive upon death.
  • Jointly held assets When two people hold property jointly (e.g. a house or flat, or bank or building society accounts).


What do I need to do next if I need a grant?

You need to apply for a grant of representation or confirmation by completing various probate forms and registering them with the Probate Registry (in England & Wales) and the Sheriff Court (in Scotland).

You can get all the probate forms you need – plus expert guidance on how to complete them – in our DIY Probate Kit.

If you need a grant of representation in England & Wales, you need to make at least one visit to the Probate Registry or a local office. This is not the case in Scotland.

In dealing with an estate in England & Wales, apart from the Principal Registry in London, there are district Registries and local offices under their control throughout the country.

It’s sensible to choose a Registry or local office conveniently located for you and the executors.

Other information