When someone dies and they haven’t left a Will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’ and the estate is distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. When this happens, the law sets out who should deal with their affairs and who should inherit their estate (property, personal possessions and money).
Many people assume that the ‘next of kin’ will handle the administration, but if the deceased dies without a Will the rules of intestacy will determine who should be appointed as administrator, to administer the estate.
When there is no Will, the person who deals with the deceased’s estate are called ‘administrators’ in England & Wales and ‘executors-dative’ in Scotland.
In England and Wales, when there is no Will, administrators are appointed in the following order of priority:
In England and Wales, the maximum number of administrators is four (whether there is a Will or the person died intestate.)
Where there is no Will, the order of priority to be appointed executor-dative in Scotland is as follows:
It’s not until the administrators receive a grant of probate that they have the authority to administer the deceased’s estate.
If there isn’t a Will, the grant of probate is called a ‘grant of letters of administration’ and in Scotland a ‘confirmation’.
To obtain a grant of letters of administration in England & Wales, you need to apply to the Probate Registry. In Scotland, you can apply for confirmation at the Sheriff Court in the area where the deceased was domiciled at death.
You can apply for a grant of probate in three ways:
The grant of probate provides proof to building societies, banks and other organisations that you have the authority to access and distribute funds.
Note: If Inheritance Tax is due on the deceased’s estate, some or all of this must be paid before a grant of probate will be issued.
Published on: October 26, 2011