Probate and estate administration: what happensafter the death of a loved one?
There are many aspects of our health, wellbeing and – eventually – our death: Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts, and funeral plans, to name a few. But do you know what happens after someone passes away? Everybody that dies leaves an ‘estate’, in other words, cash, property and assets. This estate must be administered through a complex legal process known as ‘probate’. We hope this blog demystifies the process if probate and estate administration is something you are faced with.
Who can apply for and carry out probate?
· An executor, where there is a Will
· An administrator (usually the next of kin), where there is no Will in place
Estate administration is complex and executors may choose to appoint an expert to apply for probate and administer the estate.
Applying for probate yourself
It’s possible to apply for probate yourself and administer the estate. Bear in mind, however, that the process is complicated. Errors in administering the estate could mean that you are in breach of your duty. Even genuine mistakes could lead to a situation where you, in the eyes of the law, fail to fulfil your legal or financial obligations. There have been cases where estate administrators have made errors that resulted in the failure of payable tax, a mistake for which they have been held financially liable.
If the estate is straightforward, you may be comfortable administering it but consider whether it is a responsibility you wish to bear. There is also a significant time commitment.
How long does probate and estate administration take?
If a Will is in place:
· Applying for, and being granted, probate can take 4-8 weeks
· Estate administration takes many months and requires hours of dealing with paperwork, sifting through correspondence, and supplying institutions with the information they need
In the case that there is no Will:
· Applying for Letters of Administration can take a long time, especially if the estate is complex
· As in the case where there is a Will, estate administration takes months
Administering an estate where there is no Will can increase stress at an upsetting time, as discussed below.
Administering an estate where there is no will
If there is no Will in place, the deceased is said to have died ‘intestate’. The next of kin can apply for probate so that they may administer the estate. However, they will have no say in how the estate is distributed because the rules of intestacy govern how the deceased’s property is divided.
Should you administer an estate yourself?
It is possible to do so; the decision is entirely yours. Make sure you have all the facts before you take on the responsibility and be prepared for lots of work.
My Family Legacy offers impartial advice on all aspects of estate planning. To talk through the options that are right for you, call 0117 279 5507. We’d be happy to speak with you.