Probate refers to the process of applying for the right to administer the estate of someone who has died. The term is often used to refer both to the grant of probate needed to administer a will and to the grant of administration that is needed if there is no will. The grant of probate or administration gives you the legal right to deal with the deceased person’s money, property and other possessions.
You may need to apply for probate if you have been named as executor in someone’s will or if you are the next of kin of someone who has died without leaving a will. Usually, the person who applies for a letter of administration when there is no will should be the closest living relative, such as a spouse or child of the deceased person.
It isn’t always necessary to apply for probate in order to manage the estate of someone who has died. A grant of probate will be required if the estate is worth more than £10,000 or if it includes stocks, shares, land, or other property. Some kinds of insurance policies also need to be handled through probate. However, a grant may not be necessary if the estate is worth less than this or if everything is to pass automatically to a joint owner, such as a spouse holding joint accounts. You may be able to gain access to the deceased person’s accounts by contacting their bank or the other organisations that are holding their assets. If the amount of money in the account is beneath a certain limit, it may be enough to provide proof of death, such as a death certificate. However, every institution sets its own rules and limits, so some may still require you to apply for probate before you can gain access to the account.
It is important to check whether there is a will before applying for probate. It may have been left with a bank, solicitor, or will storage service, or simply kept along with other important documents. If there is a will, it may name one or more executors. If you have been named as the executor of a will, you can apply for a grant of probate in order to complete your responsibilities. You will then be able to ensure that the estate is administered according to the wishes of the deceased person, as set out in the will.
If there is no will, then the next of kin can apply for a grant of representation or letter of administration. The grant will provide the same access as probate, but as an administrator rather than an executor. The administrator will need to be a spouse, civil partner, or close relative of the person who has died. If you are the closest relative of someone who has died without a will, then you may need to apply for a grant of representation in order to manage their estate. You will be responsible for making sure that the estate is administered correctly, according to the rules of intestacy, which determine who should become the beneficiaries of the estate when someone dies without a will.
The process of applying for probate or a grant of representation is relatively straightforward, but it is important to ensure that everything is done correctly. You may want to hire a solicitor to help you with the application and to advise on the handling of the estate once probate has been granted. Once you receive the grant, you will have the right to access the deceased person’s accounts, make financial arrangements, and divide the estate among the beneficiaries.
You will first need to identify all of the assets of the person who has died, such as property, bank and savings accounts, investments and possessions. Knowing the value of the estate will enable you to determine whether or not it will be necessary to apply for probate. You should also identify all of the liabilities on the estate at this point. These might include loans and other debts as well as any unpaid bills. If there is a will, you should also make sure that you understand how the assets are to be disposed of and who has been named as a beneficiary. If there is no will, you should identify the beneficiaries according to the rules of intestacy. Anyone who is to benefit from the estate should be contacted and asked to provide identification documents.
Another important step that you will need to take before you apply for probate or a grant of representation is to complete an inheritance tax form and to pay any tax that is due. You will need to know the value of the estate before you can do this as it will determine how much inheritance tax needs to be paid. It is important to complete the form even if you do not believe that any tax will need to be paid. If there is any inheritance tax due, you will need to pay it at least in part before the grant of probate or administration is given. You will be able to recover this money from the estate or its beneficiaries if you have to pay it from your own account.
Once the tax and other liabilities have been dealt with, you will be ready to submit an application to the Probate Registry or for your solicitor to submit the application on your behalf. Along with the completed application form, you will need to submit an official copy of the death certificate, the will if there is one, and an application fee. Before the grant of probate or administration can be given, you will also need to swear an oath in front of an official such as a solicitor. You will need to swear that the information you have provided is true to the best of your knowledge.
Once you receive the grant of probate or administration, you will then be able to start managing the estate of the person who has died. You will need to begin by paying any outstanding debts or bills. There may also be some assets, such as property, that need to be sold off before the estate can be divided between the beneficiaries. The estate accounts can then be drawn up, showing all of the payments that have been made in and out of the estate and the balance left for distribution. You will need to sign these accounts, as executor or administrator, along with all of the main beneficiaries of the estate.
You can then begin to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries. If there is a will, the assets should be distributed according to the wishes of the person who has died. If there is no will, you should seek advice from a solicitor on how the assets should be divided as it will be determined by the law. As long as there are no challenges or complications, the ownership of any assets that the beneficiaries will retain can then be transferred, along with the balance of the estate funds, including the profits from any property that has been sold.
The closest next of kin should usually be the person who acts as administrator if there is no named executor and there are strict rules governing who should take charge of the estate. If you believe that probate has been granted to the wrong person, you should seek legal advice. You can apply for a caveat to stop a grant of administration for six months while the matter is resolved. You should also seek advice if you are concerned about the way the estate has been managed or if you want to contest a will.
If you need advice on managing the estate of someone who has died, you can speak to a solicitor. Your solicitor will be able to help you to understand what you need to do and to guide you through the process.
Having a solicitor to help you through the process can make applying for probate or letters of administration easier. Your solicitor can also support you through the other steps that are involved in managing the estate of someone who has died to ensure that everything is handled correctly. Dealing with bank accounts, property, and other assets can be complicated and time consuming, so having the assistance of an experienced solicitor can make a big difference during what can be a difficult time.