We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you agree to our Privacy Policy

/ 14 Jun 2024

What information is found on the Grant of Probate?

We often see tabloid news articles detailing the messy agreements and family dramas that can ensue on the death of a celebrity. Can the Grant of Probate tell you what assets a person owned on their death? Can it tell you the value of that person’s assets? Can it tell you who benefits from the assets?

Samantha Fennah


Private Client

View profile

Following the tragic death of veteran BBC presenter George Alagiah in July 2023 there have been a number of news articles released purporting to have a used the probate process to gain an insight into how much money Mr Alagiah had when he died and how much money he left his wife and family.

Our probate team look at whether this is possible and what information is provided on the Grant of Probate.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a legal document obtained when someone dies. It gives the Executors appointed in a person’s Will authority to administer the estate, for example selling a house or shares. A Grant of Probate is not always necessary, it depends upon what the deceased person owned when they died and what their Will says.

If a person dies without a Will then it is known as a Grant of Letters of Administration but is used largely in the same way as a Grant of Probate. The key difference is that there is a strict order of who can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, and the Administrator only has authority once they are appointed.

George Alagiah’s Estate

The articles that have popped up in recent days relating to Mr Alagiah estate, seem to be making wild claims that he only left a tiny portion of his wealth to his wife of 39 years, or imply that he may not have had much left to benefit his family. These news articles are claiming that Mr Alagiah only left £49,387.00 to his wife despite earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for many years.

Tabloid journalists seem to have taken this figure from the Grant of Probate that was obtained in Mr Alagiah’s estate a copy of which was  published by the Daily Mail. So, this begs the question what information can be found on the Grant of Probate, is it accurate and is it publicly available for just anyone to find?

The short answer to the last questions is, yes, upon your death if a Grant of Probate is required to administer your estate then once this is obtained it becomes a public document along with your Will if you left one.

What information can be found on the Grant of Probate?

The Grant of Probate lists the following information:

  • The full name of the person who has died
  • Their date of death
  • Where they were domiciled at their date of death
  • If they left a Will or not and who is the Executor
  • The “gross value of the estate in the United Kingdom”

Does a Grant of Probate show the value of everything owned by the deceased?

Unfortunately, the last piece of information on the Grant of Probate referring to the estate value can be a bit misleading and is what tabloid journalists have used (or misused) to make these claims about Mr Alagiah. Assets owned jointly with others, dependent on the type of joint ownership, may not pass under the terms of your Will or Intestacy, but by the Rule of Survivorship to the survivor. Very typically spouses and civil partners will own bank accounts and their home as beneficial joint tenants, and the survivor will inherit , but this value is not part of the ‘Estate’ in the Grant. Also any assets you validly gifted away before you died will not be included in the Estate value either. It is likely this figure just covers primarily what Mr Alagiah had in his personal bank accounts and savings when he died.

This means that at his death Mr Alagiah had £49,387.00 in his sole name but that does not mean that this was all that his wife and family received from him. Sadly he had been ill for many years, but as a result it is likely that Mr Alagiah took steps to reduce the size of his estate upon his death. It is likely that the family home was already in the joint names of him and his wife, and he may have placed more assets in the names of his wife or children to reduce the size of the Inheritance Tax bill paid on his death.

How can our probate team help you?

This story highlights the importance of not only having legal advice whilst you are alive to ensure that your estate passes in a tax efficient way upon your death, but also making sure that if you have questions or concerns about a loved one’s estate that you get proper legal advice so that information you have is not taken out of context or misinterpreted.

If you need help obtaining a Grant of Probate or if you are not sure if you need one you can contact our specialist Private Client solicitors for advice on +44 (0) 207 228 0017 or via the form below.


Send us a message

If you have a query for our probate team, contact one of our lawyers by filling out the form below or call us on +44 (0) 207 228 0017.

"*" indicates required fields

This website is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply
If you would like to provide your preferred pronouns or any reasonable adjustments we should be aware of, please do so in the message box above.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Get in touch
Call us on +44 (0) 207 228 0017