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The Differences Between a Will and Probate

CLIENTS often ask what the differences between a will and probate are. They are two entirely separate legal documents but both relate to what happens to your possessions and estate after death.

A Grant of Representation is an authority granted by the court to named individuals (or to a trust corporation) to administer the estate of a deceased person. The Grant is of Probate when the will is proved by the executors named in it or of letters of administration when the deceased died without a will (intestate). People often refer to the Grant of Representation as Probate for short.  

A will allows the testator (the person writing it) to record their last wishes, whereas a Grant of Probate allows the executor – the person named in the will as responsible for dealing with the estate – to act upon the testator's requests.  

A Grant of Representation is needed irrespective of whether a will has been written. Many wrongly believe that a Grant of Representation is not necessary if a loved one has left a will.   

There isn’t an official monetary threshold where probate is required, and it is often set by the various financial institutions. If the deceased held a joint account with their child, containing £80,000, because it was in joint names, the bank’s procedure is to transfer the funds to the remaining joint owner and no grant is required.  

If a spouse closes her husband’s accounts and produces the original will, proving his wealth goes to her, then the bank may accept this without probate. 

Or if the testator held shares the share registrar would ask for a Grant of Probate if the value was more than £10,000. 

A will can impact on a probate application by determining:  

• Who should apply for probate.  If there's a will, it's the executors named in the will. Where there isn’t a will, it's a beneficiary, who is known as the administrator.  

• What type of grant needs to be should be acquired from the Probate Registry.  If there's a will, it is a Grant of Probate and in the absence of a will, it's a Grant of Letters of Administration.  

• Who the estate is distributed to. Where there's a will, it goes to the beneficiaries named in the will and if there isn't a will, to the deceased’s relatives. There's an order of priority that sets out who should inherit the estate and in what proportion.  

 Amphlett Lissimore can provide legal advice relevant to your circumstances, and our specialist team can deal with any queries regarding a will or probate.  

We also appreciate this can be a delicate subject and will be handled with sensitivity.  

For more information or to book an appointment, call our Wills and Probate department on 0208 771 5254.   

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