Estate Administration: applying for a Grant of Representation
Following someone’s death, the legal right to deal with their estate must be obtained before money, property or possessions can be distributed.
A ‘grant of representation’ should be applied for in order to do this; the grant can take various forms, dependent on whether the deceased has left a will.
Where the individual has made a will and specified an Executor, this individual or individuals will have the authority to deal with the estate after death. However, in order to release funds or assets from some institutions, a grant of probate may be required. This is the Court’s legal confirmation that the Will is valid and provides the institution with proof. As the Executors have the authority to deal with the estate, it is important that clients are made aware of the role they have and the care they may wish to take in appointing them.
Where a will has not been made, the grant of representation applied for is instead known as ‘letters of administration’. As there is no Executor of the estate, nobody has automatic authority to deal with the person’s affairs, and in some cases must apply for this legal entitlement to the estate in order to confirm that they have the power to do so.
Where a valid will has been made but an Executor does not apply for probate, ‘letters of administration with will annexed’ may be applied for instead. This may be the case where the Executor no longer wishes to take up the role or is unable to for whatever reason.
Upon learning about this difference, an issue to consider is the potential reasons why a grant of representation might not be issued.
A reason for this may be that a caveat has been used, which prevents the grant from being issued. Lasting for six months, a caveat may be used where there is a dispute over a will, there is suspected undue influence, the entitlement of the person applying for the grant or concerns over the will’s validity. A caveat provides the caveator with time to make enquiries as to whether they have legitimate grounds to dispute the will.
They are often issued without notice, meaning that an Executor or other estate administrator may be unaware that a caveat has been used. If they do not agree with the caveat, a Warning may be served, requiring an appearance to be entered at the Court within an 8 day period. Where an appearance – detailing the reasons for the caveat – is not entered, a further application for the probate may be made. However, if an appearance is entered, the caveat will continue to apply until the issue is properly dealt with.
As well as consolidating the final wishes of a client, a valid will prevents complications regarding the estate and reduces the risk for disputes to occur among family members. Ensuring clients are aware of this encourages them to see the importance and value of professional will writing services.
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This message was added on Monday 15th May 2017