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What are Grants of Representation and Personal Representatives?

A Grant of Representation could be either a Grant of Probate, or a Grant of Letters of Administration. The Grant is a court sealed document issued by the Probate Registry to either the executors (where there is a Will) or to the Administrators (where there is no will or no surviving executors). The collective name for executors or administrators, which many financial institutions use in their literature, is Personal Representatives.  A Grant of Representation however is not always required when someone dies.

When you need It

Generally speaking, a Grant of Representation (whether it be Probate or Letters of Administration) will not be needed if the deceased left less than £10,000 in total or everything is owned jointly with someone else who is still alive. However it is in the discretion of the relevant institution as to whether they will deal with the deceased’s estate without a Grant of Representation. You must have a Grant to transfer a house or land in the deceased’s sole name and to transfer or sell stocks and shares.  You will probably need a Grant where there are individual assets worth more than £10,000 and to collect pay outs on most life policies and pensions.

Your responsibilities and liabilities

As a Personal Representative you have a duty to ensure the deceased are buried, their debts paid and the estate distributed in accordance with the Will or the intestacy Rules, which set out who (out of the surviving relatives) is entitled to a share of the estate.   You are personally liable to all the creditors and beneficiaries of the deceased to the amount of the estate that you administered or could have administered if you had acted properly.

The Personal Representatives are also under a legal duty to pay any inheritance tax that be due as a result of the death. In order to determine how much, if any, inheritance tax has to be paid the first job is to value the estate. In other words, to provide a financial snap shot of all the assets and liabilities of the deceased on the day that they died.  Inheritance tax is then calculated based on the total net estate (all the assets minus all the liabilities) at the date of death.

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