What is Probate?

Where someone has died (“the Deceased”), somebody else has to deal with their affairs and ensure that the assets of the Deceased are distributed to those entitled to them, after the payment of their liabilities.

If the Deceased has made a Will, the persons named in the Will as executors will usually need to apply to the Isle of Man Court for authority to administer the Estate. This application is commonly referred to as an application for a “Grant of Probate” of the will. If the Isle of Man Court is satisfied with the application, the Probate Registry will issue a sealed deed which gives the Executors the rights in law to control and deal with the Estate in the place of the Deceased. This document is known as the “Grant of Probate”.

What if the deceased left no will?

If the Deceased has not left a Will (or has left a Will without naming Executors), a similar procedure is used to secure the requisite authority for “Administrators”. Administrators are effectively the same as Executors.

The Administrators will be charged with winding up the Estate. Instead of “Grant of Probate”, the “Grant of Administration” will appoint the Administrators to perform the same functions as the Executors.

The major difference between the Estate being dealt with under Grant of Probate is that in the case of Probate there is a Will according to which the Estate is distributed, whereas in the case of Administration there is no Will. The Estate is administered in accordance with laws laid down in the Administration of Estates Act (also known in most countries as the laws of “Intestacy”). Under Intestacy the assets are distributed to the nearest living relatives of the Deceased according to a particular pattern.

For the remainder of this guide, all references to “Probate” refer to both Grant of Probate and Grant of Administration.

Is Probate always required?

In the Isle of Man there is not an absolute requirement to apply for Probate. However, almost invariably banks and other financial institutions will require Probate before they will release assets to the person appointed to administer the Estate.

There are instances where Probate may not be required, although banks and other financial institutions are involved. For example, if the Deceased held assets jointly with another person (e.g. a partner), it may be that these asset pass automatically to that surviving person and there will be no requirement for Probate in relation to these assets.

Where the estate is low value, Probate may not be required.

What if the Deceased was domiciled outside of the Isle of Man but has assets in the Isle of Man?

If the deceased was domiciled outside of the Isle of Man, but died holding assets in the Isle of Man, the procedures for Probate in the Isle of Man are substantially the same except that particular documents will be required from the country in which the deceased was domiciled before Grant of Probate or letters of Administration are issued by the Probate Registry in the Isle of Man.

As a general rule, the Isle of Man Probate Registry would require a Court sealed copy of the Grant of Probate and Will (if applicable), from the Court or Registry which issued the Probate. If these documents are in a foreign language, the Isle of Man Court will also require an original notarised translation of the documentation into English.

How soon can Probate be Granted?

Grant of probate will not be issued for at least seven days after death and it may take some time longer. There is a practical reason for this minimum delay of seven days. The Probate Office need to be sure that there are no conflicting claims arising for example from newer wills or by nearer relatives as Grant of Probate and letters of Administration are very important legal documents providing very wide powers to the executors or administrators which cannot be easily revoked and are easily abused if they fall into the wrong hands. Provided correct documentation accompanies an accurate application, the Registry generally turns the application around in four weeks.

How can we help?

At MannBenham we have experience in making applications for Grants of Probate and Grants of Administration, both for people domiciled in the Isle of Man and those who have assets in the Isle of Man.

If you find yourself in a position of considering whether Probate is required or not, we can help you review the person’s estate and give you clear guidance on whether Probate is needed.

If Probate applies to you, we can assist you in understanding what steps need to be taken and points that need to be considered and addressed. We can also help you in administering the estate and can provide executorship services.

Our in house accounting team is also experienced in drawing and maintaining the required estate accounts and filing of estate tax returns and can help you with this.

Should you wish advice regarding Probate or just wish to understand your options, please feel free to speak with one of our Probate team on 01624 639350.

This guidance only provides a brief overview of the probate process. It should not be taken as providing legal advice or as providing a comprehensive guide. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this guide without first obtaining specific legal advice.