When someone dies, there are many decisions and arrangements to be made. Unfortunately these have to be made at a time of personal distress. A brief outline with useful links is included here for your information.
The death certificate is a copy of the entry in the death register made by the Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths in the area which the death occurred. This certificate is needed to deal with money or property left by the person who has died, including dealing with the Will. You may need several copies of the certificate, for which there will be a charge.
A funeral can take place any time after death. The person may have left instructions (in their Will or somewhere else) about the type of funeral they wanted and/or whether they wanted to be buried or cremated. There is no legal obligation for relatives to follow these instructions.
Someone has to deal with the deceased person's estate (money, property and possessions). All debts have to be paid out of the estate and the remainder has to be distributed to those entitled to it. Permission to do this has to be obtained by a legal document called a Grant of Representation issued by the Probate Registry. There are three types of Grant of Representation.
This is issued to the executors named in the deceased’s Will
- Letters of Administration (With Will)
This is issued when there is a Will, but there are no executors named or the executors are unwilling or unable to apply for the grant.
- Letters of Administration
This is issued when the deceased made no Will, or the Will is invalid.
A grant is not always required if the whole of the estate is held in joint names and passes automatically to the surviving joint owner. However a grant will always be required to sell or transfer property held in the deceased’s sole name or a share of a property held as tenants in common.
Who is entitled to a Grant?
If there is a Will with named executors, they are the first people entitled to a grant.
If there is no Will or the executors are unwilling to apply, any person who benefits from the remainder of the estate after gifts have been made can apply.
If there is no Will, application for a grant should be made by the next of kin in the following order of priority:
- Lawful spouse or civil partner (NOTE Common-law partners have no entitlement to a grant)
- Sons or daughters (excluding step children)
- Brothers or sisters
- Uncles or Aunts
How to Apply For a Grant
Contact Probate Registry and ask for an information pack and the relevant forms.
Below are telephone numbers and links to appropriate websites.
Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline
For general advice on applying for probate in England and Wales you can contact the
Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline. Calls are charged at local rates.
The Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline is open 9.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday
Telephone: 0845 30 20 900
Fax: 0115 974 2432