Coping with the loss of a loved one is never easy and can feel overwhelming especially if you are responsible for dealing with the legal and financial aspects of their estate. Depending on the circumstances you may need to go through probate, which can be a challenging process at a very difficult time.
Our experienced solicitors have written The Complete Guide to Probate helping you to understand what probate is, when it is needed, and the process involved.
The Complete Guide to Probate
What is Probate?
Probate is the term used to describe the process of taking control of a person’s estate after they have died. It involves organising the legal and financial aspects of their property, money, and possessions (known as their ‘estate’).
Is It Always Required?
Depending on the circumstances applying for probate on a person’s estate may not be required.
You may not need probate if:
- Most of the assets in the estate such as property or bank accounts are jointly owned with the deceased’s surviving partner.
- The estate is small and does not include land or property.
You may need probate if:
- The person died without a will, then the closest member of the family according to the Intestacy Rules may need to apply for a grant of letters of administration, which allows them to take control of the estate.
- The person died with a will and the estate is substantial, the executor of the will needs to apply for a grant of probate, which allows them to carry out the wishes of the person’s will and settle their estate.
What is the Process for Probate?
The exact process for probate varies depending on whether the deceased person had a will or not. However, the simple process for an Executor or Administrator goes as follows:
- Gather Information – They will need to collect information of the deceased person’s estate such as property, assets and debts etc. They need to find any will.
- Apply for Probate – If the deceased person had a will then the executor will apply for Grant of Probate. If there is no will the closest member of the family according to the Intestacy Rules should apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Both applications will give authority to access the estate.
- Calculate & Pay Inheritance Tax – The value of the estate will decide whether inheritance tax is to be paid. For further information please read our article covering 5 Common Questions About Inheritance Tax.
- Inform Organisations & Close Accounts – Contact businesses and organisations regarding the deceased and close their accounts.
- Pay Outstanding Debts – Should the deceased have any outstanding debts these must be paid.
- Claim Life Insurance Plans (if applicable) – If the deceased had a life insurance policy this can be claimed for.
- Value the Estate – After inheritance tax and debts have been paid, the estate available for distribution must be calculated.
- Distribute Remaining Assets from the Estate – Providing there are no disputes or other issues to resolve then the estate can be distributed either according to the wishes of the will or the rules which apply when there is no Will (the Intestacy Rules).
- Close the Estate – Once the estate has been settled it can be closed.
How Long Does It Take?
It often takes between 4 to 8 weeks to be granted probate, providing there are no complications after you have submitted the application. The length of time it takes for probate to complete depends on how complex the estate is.
Please note due to Covid-19 probate applications are taking longer than normal to process.
Do I Need to Use a Solicitor for Probate?
It is not a legal requirement to use a solicitor for probate in England and Wales. However, probate can be complex, time consuming and difficult to deal with after a loved one has passed away. In some circumstances it may be advisable to seek assistance from a solicitor who will be able to offer expert legal advice and support during a difficult time.
To speak to one of our Wills and Probate Solicitors please call us on 033 3344 9600.
Specialist Wills & Probate Solicitors in the UK
Morrish Solicitors have a team of qualified and experienced Wills and Probate Solicitors specialising in all aspects of Wills, Probate, Estate and Elderly Client Law. Our solicitors will handle your case sensitively and provide clear, honest professional legal advice tailored to your specific needs.
With many years’ experience in Wills, Probate and Estates, we can assist you on a range of matters including:
- Will Writing Services
- Estate Administration
- Tax Planning
- Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Court of Protection
- Care Homes
- Advice regarding Residential/Nursing Care
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