Grant of representation 'not automatic'

by Sarah Ashcroft

Many people will use a DIY Will Kit to leave stocks and shares, insurance policies and other things that require a grant of representation. This is needed by the relevant institution, such as a bank, to transfer control of the assets, which can also include property or land held in the deceased's name or as tenants in common.

However, it seems many people do not realise that a grant of representation is more than just a formality and making a will is a must.

"There's an assumption that things happen automatically, assets pass automatically to spouse, children or next of kin or whoever," says Paul Sharpe, chairman of the Institute of Professional Willwriters.

"The reality is that nothing happens automatically and even if a will is made which doesn't change who gets what, the message that making a will can ease the process is one that is often overlooked by those who decide that making a will is not for them."

There are cases where a grant of representation may not be needed, such as when the person who died left less than £5,000 or if they owned everything jointly with someone else and everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner.

In order to find out whether a grant of representation is required, the executor or administrator needs to write to each institution informing them of the death, enclosing a photocopy of the death certificate and will if there is one.

Mr Sharpe also spoke of the "disappointing" number of people who are choosing to leave money to charity in their wills. The government announced plans this year to offer an inheritance tax break to anyone who leaves ten per cent or more of their estate to charity.

This measure will not take effect until next year and currently it is estimated that just seven per cent of people leave anything to good causes when they die.

Mr Sharpe comments: "The number of people who include a charity in their will remains disappointing, even when the subject is raised at the will making time."

Published on: November 18, 2011

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