In the United Kingdom, when someone passes away, their assets and property must be distributed according to their will or the laws of intestacy. The process of distributing these assets is known as probate, and there are two legal documents that are needed in order to do this: a grant of probate and letters of administration. While both documents serve the same purpose, there is a key difference between the two.
Grant of Probate
A grant of probate is a legal document issued by the probate registry that confirms the validity of a deceased person’s will and appoints the executors named in the will as the legal representatives of the estate. The executors are responsible for collecting and distributing the assets of the estate, and the grant of probate gives them the legal authority to do so. In order to apply for a grant of probate, the executors must first obtain a death certificate and a copy of the original will.
Letters of Administration
Letters of administration are similar to a grant of probate, but they are issued when there is no valid will. When someone dies intestate (without a will), the probate registry will issue letters of administration to an individual appointed by the court. This individual is known as an administrator, and they are responsible for collecting and distributing the assets of the estate. In order to apply for letters of administration, the administrator must obtain a death certificate and provide proof of their relationship to the deceased.
In summary, the main difference between a grant of probate and letters of administration is that a grant of probate is issued when there is a valid will, and letters of administration are issued when there is no valid will. The executors named in the will are responsible for obtaining a grant of probate, while letters of administration are issued to an administrator appointed by the court. Both documents give the legal authority to collect and distribute the assets of the estate, but the process of obtaining them is slightly different.
It’s important to note that obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration is not always necessary, as it depends on the specific assets and liabilities of the estate. In some cases, it may not be necessary to apply for either document, as the assets can be transferred without the need for a probate application.