A brief guide to probate

Probate is a term that is used in several different ways, sometimes referred to as ‘administering the estate’, below is A brief guide to probate explaining the probate process.

Probate is the legal process which gives a person the right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs, as indicated in their will. Probate solicitors can help an executor execute their duties and also advise on a living persons will.

If the person who has died leaves a valid will, then the executor may need to apply for a ‘Grant of Probate’ from the courts, depending on the assets they owned and their value. The grant is a legal document that verifies that the executor has the authority to deal with any property, money or possessions left by the deceased.

If the person who died has not left a will, a close relative can apply to the section of the court known as the Probate Registry, for a ‘Grant of Letters Administration’. If the grant is given, the applicant becomes an Administrator of the Estate. Similarly to the Grant of Probate, the Grant of Letters Administration is a legal document, confirming the administrator’s authority to deal with the deceased persons assets.

The probate process allows your estate to be collected and dispersed in the correct manner. Any outstanding debts and taxes must be paid before any inheritance is distributed to the beneficiaries. A Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters Administration is nearly always required. It applies in the following situations:

– If the deceased has property solely in their name or as tenants in common
– If the deceased leaves assets or money totalling of £5,000 or more
– If the deceased has stocks or shares
– If the deceased had certain insurance policies

There are circumstances in which a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters Administration may not be needed, and that is only when the person who has passed away has left assets of a low value (generally less £5,000) or their assets were owned jointly with another person. When this is the case those jointly owned assets will pass over to the surviving owner.

Probate will only be granted if the will’s executor has paid off some, or all of the Inheritance Tax due on the estate.


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