Wills, probate and inheritance
When someone dies, you’ll need to get the legal right to deal with their property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’).
England and Wales
You may be able to apply for a ‘grant of representation’ - known as ‘probate’.
You can apply yourself or use a solicitor or another person licensed to provide probate services.
Most cases follow the same basic process.
Check if there’s a will - this normally states who sorts out the estate. If there’s no will the next of kin can apply.
Apply to get a ‘grant of representation’ - this gives you the legal right to access things like the person’s bank account.
Pay any Inheritance Tax that’s due.
Collect the estate’s assets, for example money from the sale of the person’s property.
Pay any debts, for example unpaid utilities bills.
Distribute the estate - this means giving any property, money or possessions to the people entitled to it (‘beneficiaries’).
A grant of representation can sometimes be known as a ‘grant of probate’, ‘letters of administration’ or ‘letters of administration with a will’.
When a grant of representation may not be needed
You don’t normally need a grant if the estate either:
- passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner because it was held in joint names, for example a savings account
- doesn’t include land, property or shares
You should contact the organisation holding the money, for example the bank or building society. They may ask for proof of death, for example the death certificate after the death has been registered.
Each financial institution has its own rules - you may still need to apply for a grant.