How do you deal with your loved one’s estate?

This quick guide to the probate system in England & Wales serves to help you understand the process, but as every loved one`s estate is different it does not cover every eventuality. In this regard, nothing can replace the help and guidance of a professional.

When you are bereaved there are a number of formalities to comply with, and one of these is sorting out your loved one`s estate. Being entrusted by your loved one to administer their estate should be seen as a great honour and privilege, but with it comes important duties.

Is there a will?

The first thing you should do is establish whether your loved one made a will (often they will not have done). If they did not mention one to you, a good place to start looking is within their personal documents.

Once found, the will identifies who will be the executors of the estate. An executor is a trusted person, often a son or daughter, who your loved one has chosen to administer their estate. Before this can be done an official court form needs to be obtained from the Probate Registry. This is called a grant of probate.

If your loved one did not make a will, an application still needs to be made to the Probate Registry before the estate can be administered. This is made by the next of kin, and is very similar to the grant of probate, but as there is no will it is known as the grant of letters of administration. The next of kin in this instance is known as the administrator rather than an executor.

Applying to the Probate Registry

As an executor or administrator you can apply to the probate registry yourself for a grant, or you can ask a professional familiar with the process` to help you.

Once either grant is obtained this provides the authority for the estate to be administered, and shows you have the right to handle the estate of your loved one. This often involves the sale of a house and the closing of Bank and Building Society accounts.