What is probate?
When a person dies somebody has to deal with their estate (money property and possessions left) by collecting in all the money, paying any debts and distributing what is left to those people entitled to it. Probate is the court’s authority; given to a person or persons to administer a deceased person’s estate and the document issued by the Probate Service is called a Grant of Representation. This document is usually required by the asset holders as proof to show the correct person or persons have the Probate Service’s authority to administer a deceased person’s estate.
What is the Probate Service?
The Probate Service forms part of the Family Division of the High Court. It deals with ‘non-contentious’ probate business (where there is no dispute about the validity of a will or entitlement to take a grant), and issues grants of representation, which are known as either:
- Probate (when the deceased person left a valid will and an executor is acting)
- Letters of administration with will (when a person has left a valid will but no executor is acting)
- Letters of administration (usually when there is no valid will).
These different types of grants of representation appoint people known as personal representatives to administer the deceased person’s estate.
Current structure of the Probate Service
The Probate Service is currently made up of:
- The Principal Registry in London
- 11 District Probate Registries
- 18 Probate Sub-Registries situated throughout England and Wales
There are also a number of Probate 'offices' (usually a room in a court or local authority building) which staff attend, as necessary, to allow personal applicants to attend to swear the oath.
Find a Probate Registry
Please be aware that there are currently several Probate scams in operation via the Internet. Many of these will inform the recipient that they are the beneficiary of a substantial legacy but will ask for fees and/or taxes in advance of sending more information or the release of funds.
These will always be fraudulent and on no account should you make any payment or transfer any funds. You can obtain further information and advice concerning such scams on www.met.police.uk/fraudalert You will also find information about reporting such activity to the police, as the police may be able to close down the e-mail accounts concerned.