Probate vs. full estate administration – what’s the difference?

When shopping around for probate, you may hear probate solicitors using the term ‘estate administration’. But before choosing a professional probate provider, it’s important to understand exactly what each of these terms mean.


Probate (short for ‘grant of probate’) is a document issued by HM Courts Service. It proves that certain people have the authority to deal with the assets of someone who died – such as the executor or administrator of the estate.

To obtain a grant of probate, you first need to fill out a series of forms and submit them to the probate registry. If you aren’t used to all the legal jargon, it can be easy to make mistakes when applying for probate yourself. Instead, many people choose to use a professional service to help them get probate. You may see these referred to as ‘grant-only’ services.

Full estate administration;

Full estate administration is everything that needs to be done to sort out someone’s affairs — not just the grant of probate. It could mean calling up banks, filling out their forms, dealing with the family, paying debts, closing accounts, sorting out pensions, selling shares, collecting in funds, clearing the house, selling the house, paying everything out to the beneficiaries, and so on.

This juggling act can be challenging for some people, particularly after dealing with a bereavement. But the main issue is that it’s very time-consuming. From start to finish, the whole estate administration process takes around 9-12 months, which can be particularly difficult to do yourself if you’re also working full time.