What to expect from the two stages of probate
If you have lost friends or loved ones, you may have heard the term ‘probate’ used after their passing. Probate is a legal process which oversees the administration of a person’s affairs after death.
The Gov.uk website offers the following definition:
Applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions(their ‘estate’) when they die is called ‘applying for probate’.
Many estates require probate, though not all. This blog lays out what to expect when probate is required and examines the responsibilities involved if you are administering an estate.
When is probate required?
The most common scenarios where probate is required are:
1. When the deceased owns property or assets solely in their name (rather than jointly with a spouse or civil partner)
2. When the deceased has died ‘intestate’, meaning they have died without a Will
Stage one: applying for probate
In either case, there is always property, cash, assets and liabilities that must be administered upon a person’s death. If you are responsible for this, you will need to prove to the relevant institutions, such as banks, government bodies, and insurers, that you are legally entitled to do so.
The first stage of the probate process is making an application for the authority to administer the estate. The grant you receive depends upon the circumstances of the death:
1. If there is a Will in place, the executor(s) will be issued a grant of probate
2. If there is no Will in place, the deceased’s next of kin will be granted letters of administration
At this stage, there are several important responsibilities:
1. Having the estate valued
2. Completing the correct inheritance tax forms and ensuring that any payable inheritance taxis settled before probate is granted
3. Filling in all of the probate forms, submitting them to the courts (the ‘probate registry’) and paying the court fee
Stage two: administering the estate
Once the grant of probate has been received, the administrator can carry out the necessary steps to take care of the deceased’s estate.
· Notifying institutions of the death and closing accounts
· Paying debts, including credit cards, finance and loans
· Settling money owed, or overpayments, with organisations such as energy suppliers and state benefits
· Selling or transferring shares
· Completing a tax return, setting up Trusts (where applicable) and drawing up estate accounts
It is only after all this has been completed that the estate may be distributed. If you are responsible for administering an estate, take care that all debts have been settled before sharing funds amongst beneficiaries.
Probate: need professional help?
Death is not an easy subject for any of us and it can be particularly upsetting if you are faced with the burden of legal responsibilities at a distressing time. At My Family Legacy, we’re here to help. You’re welcome to ask us questions, call us on 0117 2795507 and we’ll do all we can to support you.