Probate & estate administration FAQs


Please find below our most frequently asked questions with relevant answers.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.

Can I refuse to act as an executor?

Yes. If you do not wish to act then it is very important that you have not undertaken any work in connection with the estate administration. This is known as ‘intermeddling’. You should ask a solicitor about signing a deed of renunciation. This is a document which enables you to give up your role but it is very important that you execute the document before you take any action in connection with the deceased’s estate.

Alternatively, you could delegate the estate administration to a solicitor who can manage the entire process on your behalf.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.

What can I do if the executors won't tell me anything?

Sometimes executors are slow in fulfilling their duties or may simply refuse to provide any information about the estate to the beneficiaries. In some cases an executor may be wholly unsuitable. There are a number of solutions which can be considered:

Caveat – this can prevent an unsuitable executor from obtaining the grant of probate and therefore gaining access to the assets of the estate;

Renunciation – the executor may co-operate and agree to step down from their role by signing a deed of renunciation;

Citations – a citation is a direction issued by the court requiring the executor to take certain prescribed actions failing which the court will make an order in the terms set out in the citation;

Passing Over – where an executor shows no inclination of applying for a grant within a reasonable time after the deceased’s death an application can be made for a discretionary order under section 116 Supreme Court Act 1981 to pass over title to the grant to someone else;

Account – an executor who has obtained a grant of probate can be made to exhibit an inventory and account of the estate administration in court;

Removal – the beneficiaries can apply to court for the executor to be removed or replaced under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.

Do I need a grant of probate?

A grant of probate (or a grant of letters of administration if there is no will) is usually required if, after payment of the funeral, the value of the deceased’s estate is more than £5,000. However, these days some banks and other financial organisations impose their own discretionary limits which are higher that the legal limit.

That said, if a grant is not needed in order to administer the estate, it is still a good idea to consider getting one if the estate is high in value to ensure that you have correctly accounted for any inheritance tax that may be due and that you distribute the estate correctly remembering that executors and administrators can be held personally responsible for any errors that they make during the administration of the deceased’s estate.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.

What is a grant de bonis non administratis?

This is a special type of grant (often called a ‘de bonis non grant’) that must be obtained when the sole or last surviving personal representative of a deceased person’s estate dies after taking out a grant of probate (where there is a will) or a grant of letters of administration (where there is no will) but before completing the administration of the estate. These grants are necessary in order to successfully conclude the administration of the estate.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.

What is a ‘use and benefit’ grant?

Generally, there are two circumstances in which a use and benefit grant will be required:

Where the person entitled to the grant is a minor, the grant can be taken out by the parent or guardian having parental responsibility for the minor under the Children Act 1989. Where there is no person with parental responsibility or that person can not or will not apply for the grant then an application must be made to the court for another person to be appointed to take out the grant for the child’s use and benefit;

Where the person entitled to the grant is mentally incapable of managing his/her affairs a court appointed deputy or attorney under a lasting power of attorney may take out the grant for the person’s use and benefit. If there is no such person the court can order that someone else takes out the grant.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.

What is a colonial grant?

Grants issued by the courts of former commonwealth countries can be resealed here so that the foreign grant can be used to administer the deceased’s assets situated in England and Wales. Example countries include Australia, South Africa, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong (notwithstanding the change in status of Hong Kong in 1997) and New Zealand

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.