Understanding the Difference Between Probate and Estate Administration

Probate and Estate Administration are processes that concern the handling of someone’s affairs after death. While lots of us will have to deal with Probate or Estate Administration at some point in our lives, what each process actually involves can be a subject of confusion. So, if you suddenly find yourself responsible for managing all the paperwork after a bereavement, here’s what you need to know.

What does Probate mean?

‘Probate’ is often mistakenly used to refer to the entire act of sorting out someone’s affairs when they pass away, but it’s actually just one step in the overall Estate Administration process. The term Probate actually applies to the application for the legal and financial authorization to deal with someone’s estate after death. There are two types of authorization that can be granted, known as ‘Grants of Representation’, which confer authority to an appropriate person to manage and distribute someone’s estate.

  • Grant of Probate: this application can be made by Executors named in the Will.
  • Grant of Letters of Administration: where there are no named Executors, named Executors cannot or do not want to carry out their duties, or there is no Will at all, the next of kin can apply to become an Administrator of the estate.

For applications by the next of kin, there is a list of legal priority, namely: spouse or civil partner, then children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, siblings, nephews and nieces and so on to the next closest relative. 

It should be noted that you may not always need to apply for Probate – for example, if someone has a very small estate (typically under £5000), does not own property or jointly owns assets that will pass to survivors. Different financial institutions like banks may have varying Probate thresholds, so it’s always best to check what they may be before proceeding.

You can apply for Probate yourself, but many people prefer to use a Probate Professional in order to simplify and speed up the process.

What does Estate Administration involve?

Once you have navigated the Probate process and gained the legal authority to manage someone’s assets, you can get on with the job of administering their estate. Estate Administration refers to all the duties involved in sorting out and distributing the assets of the deceased. These include:

  • Gathering the necessary records and information
  • Identifying and valuing assets
  • Finding and contacting beneficiaries
  • The valuation and sale of property
  • Dealing with investments and shares
  • Identification and payment of debts
  • Closing bank and building society accounts
  • Dealing with digital assets
  • Producing accounts
  • Dealing with Inheritance Tax 
  • Sorting out Capital Gains and Income Tax
  • Transferring or cancelling utilities
  • Informing relevant organisations of the person’s death
  • Redirecting the person’s post
  • Distributing funds to beneficiaries  

The list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s easy to see why Estate Administration can often be a lengthy, complex and challenging process. This is especially true if the deceased has a lot of personal and business assets. 

How can Laurelo help with Probate and Estate Administration?

We understand that for inexperienced Executors and Administrators, the sheer amount of paperwork and huge responsibility can be overwhelming. There are also emotional factors to consider. With most Administrators and Executors being friends or close relatives of the deceased, even a relatively straightforward estate can be difficult to deal with at a time when you are grieving.

That’s where we can help. Our Probate Extraction and Full Estate Administration Services take the pressure off you when you need it most. If you’d like help to obtain a Grant of Representation or want the peace of mind that professional Estate Administration Service can bring, get in touch with our experienced team. We’re here to give you the guidance and support you need to get everything in order with the minimum of fuss. 

This article is intended to provide information only and does not constitute legal advice. We do not accept any responsibility for any omission or loss as a result of this article.