There are two stages, Probate and then Administration of the Estate. Together they are often called simply 'Probate.'
The executor of your estate has to deal with paying any outstanding debts, gathering and distributing your assets to the relevant people, and the general administration of your estate. This process is called probate. The executor is issued with a document called a 'Grant of Representation' giving them the court's authority to begin the process. More often than not, banks and other relevant institutions will ask to see the Grant before transferring control of any assets.
This 'Grant of Representation' is only unnecessary if the estate contains less than £5,000 and/or the entire estate was owned jointly with another person.
Don't forget that executors are both legally and financially responsible for the estate, which is why it is a good idea to use a probate specialist who can offer ongoing assistance and advice to the executors during this difficult time.
See also Executors & Guardians
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