What is Probate? Explained

March 13, 2024

Article by Charlotte Spargo, Private Client Paralegal

‘Probate’ is the legal process in which a deceased persons estate is administered.

This process is also known as Estate Administration, but usually requires a Grant of Probate, which is where the name ‘Probate’ arises from.

A Grant of Probate is a document that is obtained from the High Court (Probate Registry), which enables the executors named in the Will to begin managing the estate, clearing any debts and distributing out assets in accordance with the deceased wishes set out in the Will. A Grant of Probate can only be given if there is a valid Will with named executors.

There are a number of documents that can be obtained, and the two main ones are:

- Grant of Letters of Administration. This is where there is no Will, or an invalid Will.

- Grant of Letters of Administration with Will annexed. This is where there is a Will but there are no executors.

The umbrella term for all these documents is ‘Grant of Representation’.

What is the purpose of Probate?

Probate provides several vital purposes:

1) Validity- Probate confirms that the deceased Will is valid, ensuring that all of the legal requirements have been met. This process safeguards against any invalid or fraudulent Wills.

2) Debt settlement- Any outstanding debts owed by the deceased are settled from the estate before the funds are distributed to beneficiaries.

3) Distribution of assets- Distribution of assets to beneficiaries, in accordance with the Will or laws of intestacy.


What is the process of Probate?

Step 1) Identify the most recent Will and ensure it is valid;

Step 2) Check that you are applying for the correct type of Grant;

Step 3) Identify all of the assets of the deceased person on the date of death;

Step 4) Identify all of the liabilities of the deceased person on the date of death.


If there is any Inheritance Tax due on the estate, this will need to be paid before the Probate Registry will issue the certificate. Once the Probate Registry is satisfied with the application they will grant the certificate, giving authority to the executor to administer the estate.

It is important to consider that the Probate process can be time-consuming, lasting months or even years depending on the complexity of an estate and any potential disputes between beneficiaries.  While the process may seem daunting, speaking to one of the team here at EHL can alleviate the complexity of tackling Probate alone, to make the process as simplified and straightforward as possible.  If you would like to discuss Probate, please contact one of the Private Client Team and we can direct you to one of the offices of your choice.


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