You may ask, is there a difference, aside from the existence or otherwise of a valid will?
Firstly, they all achieve a similar outcome in one sense – somebody will be appointed personal representative to the deceased’s estate. This will either be in the form of an executor if there was a will, or an administrator if there was not, or if there was a valid will but for whatever reason the appointment of an executor within the will has failed (Letters of Administration with Will Annexed).
A personal representative is the person who, at law, can preserve a deceased person’s estate during the administration process and administer the estate, distributing monies to the persons either named as beneficiaries in the will or entitled to inherit when there is no will (the Rules of Intestacy).
Authority stems directly from the will for an executor, and so many assets can be made ready monies by disclosing a copy of the will to the financial institution holding those monies, subject to certain thresholds.
This is also true for an administrator when there is no will or when there is but the appointment of an executor failed, however their authority stems from the Grant, and so often financial institutions will not release monies without sight of the Grant, regardless of thresholds.
What is a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration?
A Grant of Probate is a court order, enabling the person so named in the will to be the executor of the deceased’s estate.
A Grant of Letters of Administration is also a court order, as is a Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed, however the person or persons arising as administrators are appointed under the rules of intestacy.
This may not be what the deceased would have wanted, and so it is often advisable for this reason (and others) to make a will.
It may, for example, transpire that the person appointed under the rules of intestacy cannot be trusted to preserve and administer a person’s estate for whatever reason.
Furthermore, depending on the size of your estate, applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration with or without Will Annexed can require lengthier documents be completed than if a will exists and validly appoints an executor to act. If your personal representative attempts to proceed without instructing assistance from solicitors, the more complicated documents for Letters of Administration may prove more difficult to complete for some than the documents for a Grant of Probate.
Another disadvantage of applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration, or for a Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed is the length of time it takes when applying. Both can only be applied for by post, whilst a Grant of Probate can be applied for online. You would still need to send the original will by post to the Probate Registry, but regardless of this, applying for Probate is usually quicker than Letters of Administration with or without Will Annexed.
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If you would like to avoid the potential pitfalls of relying upon the rules of intestacy and would like to make a will, we are more than happy to assist.
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