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What is a Grant of Probate?

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  • Written By: Christopher John
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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A grant of probate is a court order that authorizes an individual to settle the estate of a person who has died. It is issued when a person dies with a valid will in place. The person who receives this type of grant serves as an executor, or personal representative, of the person who died, the decedent. England, Canada, and Australia are among nations that will issue this order through probate registries as a means of settling estates. The U.S. has probate courts that enter similar orders to enable the settling of estates.

A person designated as an executor in a will must apply for a grant of probate. A probate registry is responsible for issuing grants of representation to enable the settling of estates. This court order is one type of grant of representation. A probate registry will issue a grant when a decedent has a valid will and names a person or persons to serve as an executor. An executor can obtain forms to apply for for the order from a probate registry office.

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Executors applying for a grant of probate may want to consider hiring a probate lawyer to assist with the process. A lawyer can help ensure that forms are completed appropriately, and he or she can also ensure that applicable taxes are properly calculated and paid. It is especially advisable for executors to secure the assistance of a lawyer when settling large estates, especially when the executor is unfamiliar with the application process and duties of administering an estate. A lawyer can also help an executor take measures to avoid or minimize the threat of litigation concerning the distribution of the estate.

Upon receipt of an application, the probate registry will conduct an interview of the applicant to confirm information and determine whether to issue a grant of probate. After an executor receives a grant, he may proceed to gather the assets of the estate and make distributions in accordance with the will of the decedent. The executor must comply with any laws in the jurisdiction that regulate the distribution of assets belonging to an estate. For example, jurisdictions may require that the executor provide notice to beneficiaries of the will before making distributions. This affords beneficiaries an opportunity to contest the will or raise other legal challenges before the assets of the estate are gone.

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TreeMan
Post 4

Getting a grant of probate wouldn't apply to someone who had a trust would it? As far as I know, trusts name someone who is responsible for carrying out the actions of the trust, but they don't have to go through the process of getting a grant of probate. I think if you had a large estate, it would be much easier for you and everyone involved if you had a trust instead of a will.

Is anyone here familiar with how all of this works in some of the other countries besides the United States that were mentioned? What are the probate laws in Canada, for example? It sounds like there may be fewer hoops to jump through in some of the other countries than in America.

Emilski
Post 3

@jmc88 - As far as I know, probate court is just an extension of the normal district courts. I know in my county, there is a special office in the courthouse for probate court. I would assume someone there would lead you in the right direction for the paperwork if necessary, but the lawyer would probably handle most of that.

Are there any instances when someone would not be given a grant of probate even if they were specifically mentioned in the will? Are there any qualifications for the person? For example, I was thinking maybe there were rules about the person's relationship to the deceased or whether the executor received anything in the will.

cardsfan27
Post 2

If someone is named the executor of a will, do they have to go through with it? Is there a legal obligation involved? I guess this would maybe come down to the question of whether or not the person knew about it ahead of time.

It seems like there would be a lot of hassle involved in getting a grant of probate and distributing assets. You would have to pay for a lawyer. Plus, you will probably be the person who has to deal with angry family members and friends.

What happens to the possessions that are not specifically described in the will? Does the executor decide what happens to these things, or is there an accepted system for how these assets are divided?

jmc88
Post 1

Does the executor of a will who gets a grant of probate usually do this before or after the person dies? I'm not familiar with how exactly the process of distributing assets works after someone passes away.

Do the people in the will know that they are being included, or is it always a secret until the will is read after the person is dead? In other words, would the executor know ahead of time that they will need to fill out this information?

The article says that this is handled by a probate court. Is this the same type of court that is in every county, or are there other special courts that do this? To get the probate forms, would you just walk in and fill them out?

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