Do I really need a Grant of Representation (Probate or Letters of Administration)?
Before making an application to the Court it is vitally important that you check with the asset holder, e.g. bank, building society or life assurance company, that they really do need a Grant to release the asset. If you make an application and later, even before the Grant has issued, discover that you do not need 'Probate', the Court will only issue a refund in exceptional circumstances and a failure to confirm with the asset holder that Probate is not necessary it is unlikely that such a circumstance will fall into that category.
Establish if the deceased left a Will
When a person dies it is important to establish if they left a Will. Once established, this will determine who is entitled to make the application for Probate. If the deceased did not leave a valid Will they will have died “intestate”.
What is a Will?
A Will is a declaration made in the prescribed form in which a person states what they want to happen to their money, property and possessions after their death. The Will may appoint one or more persons as executors to be responsible for paying debts and distributing money, property and possessions in accordance with their stated wishes. A Will may have one or more Codicils added to it. A Will (and any Codicils – see below) needs to comply with certain formal requirements. If you are in doubt about whether a document is a ‘Will’ you may need to take legal advice.
What is a Codicil?
A Codicil is a supplement or addition to a will explaining, modifying or revoking a previous Will provision or clause or adding an additional provision or clause. There may be several Codicils to one Will.
Finding the Will
It is important to find the Will as soon as possible. Look amongst personal papers held by the deceased at their home, in the bank, with their lawyer/advocate/accountant or with relatives. If you know that the deceased made a Will but it cannot be found, you may need to take legal advice. The Isle of Man Law Society may well be able to assist you with a search for a Will.
Once found, what if I believe the Will is wrong?
A Will can be challenged on a number of grounds – for example if the person was incapable, by reason of mental disorder, 'when' it was made or if the person had been improperly influenced by another person when making the Will. If you wish to challenge the Will, you should seek legal advice immediately.