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.
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.