The Difference Between Probate and Estate Administration

Both Probate and Estate administration are concluded with the handling of an individuals estate after they have died, but they are defined differently and often misunderstood. 

When it comes to Probate, it is a term used, but there is a lot of confusion about what it means, and what is included in the Probate process. 

On the other hand, estate administration is much less commonly known, and referred to, even though the term more accurately describes the process of dealing with a deceased persons estate. 

What is Probate? 

Probate actually just refers to the ‘Grant of Probate’, also known as ‘Confirmation’ in Scotland, which is required by law when the deceased owns property (including any houses, building or land) or if a financial institution such as a bank or insurance company requires a Grant of Probate to release the funds. It is usually also required when the deceased held stocks and shares. 

There is what is known as a ‘small estate’ and this is where the estate is traditionally less than £5,000 or where the assets are held jointly, so that they can pass to the surviving spouse or partner. 

It is important to remember that if Probate is required, ‘the Grant of Probate’ must be obtained before an executor (if there is a will), or an administrator (if there is no will), can start to gather in the assets associated with the estate.  

For example, if the property has to be transferred to another person, the Grant is probably required by HM Land Registry, before they will affect the Title Transfer. 

Traditionally, when a Probate is required and a will has been left, there are various different stages that need to be followed before the estate administration can begin.  

In no particular order: 

Obtaining the original Will which appoints the Executor or Executors. 

Assessing the estate: 

  • Valuing property, savings, investments and any other assets.
  • Calculating debts and liabilities.
  • Assessing the details of accounts, including stocks and shares.
  • Valuing any other significant items. 

This assessment must be carried out, and the value attributed to them shall be based on the date of death. 

  • Completing the Probate application, and submitting the Inheritance Tax forms to HMRC if necessary.
  • Sending all details of the application including death certificate to the Probate Registry.
  • Completing the ‘Statement of Truth’ and HMRC Inheritance Tax forms.  

Thereafter receiving the appropriate Grant of Representation. 

(A Grant of Representation is commonly used for both the Grant of Probate, or the Letters of Administration). 

If you wish advice on any aspects relating to the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.