Unless the estate is a small estate, comprising only excluded assets, the executor will be required to obtain a Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry in order to have the authority to administer the estate. A grant of probate may not be required where, for example, the estate does not contain any real estate, where assets are jointly owned, where the assets in the estate are of relatively low value, or where the estate is comprised of investment or pension policies in which the deceased has nominated a third party to receive the benefit of the policy. Our probate team is able to advise clients, in individual cases, of whether or not a grant of probate is required.
If a grant of probate is applied for and granted, a public record will be created fourteen days after the grant.
You can check whether Probate has been granted for the estate of anyone who has died in England or Wales, whether or not they left a will, you can visit the website and enter the deceased's surname and year of death here.
If the record is available, you can order a copy of the Probate record (including the will if there is one) for a fee of £1.50.
If your relative has passed away within the last six months and you are unsure whether Probate has been granted, you can ask to receive a copy of the Probate record when it is issued. This is called a 'standing search'. This ensures that you are notified when a grant is obtained. If you do not receive a notification within six months you can apply to extend the standing search for another six months for an additional fee. Any extension should be made within one month of the expiry date.
It should also be noted that a person is only permitted to bring a claim for reasonable financial provision under the 'Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975' if a grant of representation has been taken out. A standing search is, therefore, a useful tool if you are considering bringing a claim under that Act.
You can apply for a standing search by submitting Form PA1S. There is a fee of £10. This fee includes one copy of the will and grant (when issued). Please see here for Form PA1S.
You can also send this by post to the following address:
The Postal Copies and Searches Department
District Probate Registry
31 York Place
Alternatively, if you use the DX postal service you can send the form by DX to:
DX 26451 Leeds Park Square
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.