Grant of Representation
A Grant of Representation is a Court Order issued by one of the Probate Registries of the High Court, which gives authority to the “Personal Representatives” to deal with a deceased’s estate.
Personal Representatives is a term that includes Executors (who are those people appointed by a Will to administer an estate) and Administrators (who are those responsible for administering an estate where no Executors are appointed).
The duty of the Personal Representatives is to administer the estate. This includes collecting all of the assets, settling all of the debts, exercising any available powers and discretions and distributing the remainder of the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will or, if there is no Will, the rules of intestacy. It is normally not possible to collect assets, or to pay debts of the estate out of the assets of the estate, until the Grant of Representation has been obtained. There are though some exceptions, the most common of which is payment of the funeral expenses and payment of Inheritance Tax.
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What is needed to obtain a Grant of Representation?
If the Personal Representatives are instructing solicitors to assist them in obtaining the Grant of Representation the Personal Representatives must swear an Oath for the Court.
The Personal Representatives must state the value of the gross and net estate of the person who has died, and they must swear that they will ensure that his or her property will be distributed in accordance with the Will if there is one, or if not, the rules of intestacy.Therefore the Personal Representatives need to provide details of all the property and all the debts. The property will include any house, car, furniture, savings, life insurance policies, personal possessions, jewellery and anything capable of being valued and of being transferred from one person to another. The debts may include a mortgage, outstanding bills, etc. and will also include the funeral expenses.
How is a Grant of Representation obtained?
An Oath must be lodged at one of the Probate Registries of the High Court.
In addition it is also necessary to complete a return for Inheritance Tax purposes. There are two types. The first of these is a shortened form which can be completed for estates which are below the Inheritance Tax threshold at the date of death, or are ‘excepted estates’ by virtue of the spouse or charity exemption for Inheritance Tax.
Broadly these are estates above the Inheritance Tax threshold, but below £1 million; on which there is no tax to pay by virtue of the spouse or charity exemption.The second form of account is the full form, which must be completed in all other circumstances. The shortened form can be submitted directly to the Probate Registry with the sworn Oath but the longer, or full, form must be submitted to HM Revenue & Customs along with payment of any Inheritance Tax due. A form of receipt is then returned for submission to the Probate Registry along with the sworn Oath. Once the Probate Registry accepts the papers, they will issue the Grant of Representation. This is the document which allows the Personal Representatives to administer the estate.
What happens after the Grant of Representation is received?
The Grant of Representation will be registered with all of the institutions in which the deceased held assets.
After the Grant has been registered, it will be possible for the property or the money to be transferred to the Personal Representatives so that they can deal with it in accordance with the terms of the Will, or in accordance with the intestacy rules, if there is no Will.
A final distribution of all of the assets can only be made when all the debts, including tax liabilities, have been ascertained and settled.
This can take some time, particularly where the values are uncertain and have to be agreed with HM Revenue & Customs.
How long will this take?
The circumstances of each estate is unique, so it is extremely difficult to predict how long it will take to obtain a Grant of Representation and to administer the estate.
While we are assisting you we will keep you informed of the position reached and how matters are progressing.
Estates which are apparently simple can prove to be complicated and take much more time than is envisaged at the outset. Similarly, large estates may prove to be straightforward. Difficulties may arise for any number of reasons.
Typical problems which may substantially increase the time taken are:-
- the need to go through and sort out numerous old papers;
- searching for details of lifetime gifts which the deceased may have made;
- difficulty in realising assets or in settling tax or other liabilities;
- difficulty in tracing beneficiaries or in dealing with beneficiaries who are under age;
- foreign property and the need to liaise with foreign lawyers;
- trusts in which the deceased had an interest;
- agricultural or business property;
- there may also be scope for tax planning and consideration of a Deed of Variation (varying the effect of the Will or the intestacy rules).
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