A common misconception is that a Grant or Representation will not be needed if the deceased left a Will. If there is a Will, then the Grant of Representation is referred to as a Grant of Probate, and without a Will, it is referred to as Letters of Administration
In fact, whether a Grant is required generally depends on what assets the deceased had and what their value is. If the deceased owned a property in their sole name then a Grant is always required before the property can be sold or transferred into the beneficiaries name(s).
Banks set their own limits as to whether a Grant is required – some are as low as £5,000 and others will pay in excess of £50,000 without a Grant.
It is the Personal Representatives (PR’s) responsibility to apply for a Grant. If there is a Will then the PR’s are the executors named in the Will, and if there is no Will, then the PR’s are defined under a strict order which is laid down in law, e.g. if there is a spouse, then they would act as PR, if there is no spouse, but there are children over 18 then they would be the PR’s.
It is the PR’s responsibility to administer the estate according to the terms of the Will or under the laws of Intestacy if there is no Will. They also have to ensure that the correct amount of Inheritance Tax is paid.
If the PR’s make an error in administering the estate (whether just a mistake or intentionally), then they are personally liable and will have to rectify that error. An example would be that they have distributed the estate to the beneficiary, but they failed to clear a credit card debt first, then if they could not get funds back from the beneficiary, then the PR’s would have to repay the Credit Card from their own money.
Being a PR is an onerous role, and specialist advice should be sought. Contact stevensdrake for advice