What is probate?
Probate is the process of administering a person’s estate after they die.
If a loved one dies with significant assets, and you’re named as an executor in their will, you will need to get a format grant of probate to enable you to deal with their estate per their wishes.
We understand that taking care of admin is probably the last thing you want to deal with following the death of a loved one. That’s why we’re here: to take care of everything so you can look after yourself and those around you.
Applying for probate is one of many things you may need to do following the death of a loved one.
While applying for probate may be necessary, it can bring added stress and angst at a time when you’re grieving and want to give your time and attention to those around you. This is especially true if you’re not sure where a copy of the deceased’s will is located, or there are executors who are unable to deal with the estate.
We can help you take all the necessary steps around applying for probate and receiving a grant of probate to allow you to deal with your loved one’s estate when you’re ready to do so.
How can LawPlus Solicitors help me after the death of a loved one?
We understand that dealing with a loved one’s estate can be distressing, but we’re here to support you throughout the whole process.
As part of helping you understand the process of getting a grant of probate and doing so on your behalf, we can also help you with:
- Finding out if a will exists and locating it
- Estimating the value of the estate
- Administering the estate of the deceased
- Advising on maximising your inheritance
How does getting a grant of probate work?
We appreciate dealing with the death of a loved one is a difficult time for you, so we’ll take care of everything on your behalf once you’ve provided us all the necessary details.
- Probate and inheritance tax paperwork completed
- Application prepared and submitted on your behalf
- Regular updates about your application
- Grant of probate document sent to you once received
Do I even need a grant of probate?
It depends on the circumstances; if someone dies with an estate of less than £5,000 in value, exclusively consisting of cash in bank accounts, you generally do not need a grant of probate to get the money.
In contrast, probate is always needed if an estate includes land or shares.
Can I get a grant of probate myself?
Yes, but it is usually a good idea to use a professional service.
This is because there may be several things to be done, like completing tax returns to finalise and pay inheritance tax liabilities.
Using a professional probate service can help ensure any complexities are dealt with correctly and you do not make any mistakes when administering the deceased’s estate.
What happens if there isn’t a will?
If someone dies without a will, intestacy rules are applied to their estate. It also makes it more likely you will need assistance in dealing with their affairs and distributing their estate accordingly.
To get a grant of probate, you will first need to ensure that you are entitled to become the executor of the deceased’s estate.
The order of priority in which people can apply for probate and to become an executor is as follows:
- Surviving spouse
- Uncle or aunt
So, for example, if your child died without a will, was not married, and did not have any children, as a parent you would have the right to apply for probate, become executor and deal with their affairs.
Once you have ascertained if you have the right to apply for a grant of probate and receive it, you would then have the same duties as an executor for distributing the estate.
Do I have personal liability as an executor?
Yes. If you fail to carry out your duties as required in acting as an executor, you can be held personally liable by the estate itself.
For example you could be held personally liable if you:
- Fail to safeguard assets
- Misappropriate assets for your own gain rather than for that of the estate or its beneficiaries
- Fail to submit tax returns correctly and with the necessary paperwork
- Distribute the estate incorrectly in contravention of instructions in the will
Having such duties can be overwhelming, which is why it makes sense to consult probate specialists before getting started.
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Probate gives you the legal right to deal with someone’s estate when they die.
You may need to apply for probate regardless of whether the deceased left a will. The documents you receive will differ depending on whether or not there was a valid will. If a person dies without a will (intestate), you will receive letters of administration giving you the right to deal with their estate. If the deceased had a will, and you are named as the executor, you will receive a grant of probate.
While the term probate is often used to describe getting a grant of probate, probate itself is actually the entire process of dealing with a dead person’s estate. This includes valuing the estate, settling any outstanding bills or debts, paying applicable taxes, collecting monies owed to the estate, and distributing the estate according to the will, or per intestacy rules where a will is not present.
A grant of probate is a legal document that gives you the right to deal with a person’s estate. You will only receive a grant of probate if the person died with a will and you are named as the estate’s executor.
If a person dies without a will, the process of applying for probate is the same as if they had one, but you will instead receive letters of administration rather than a grant of probate. However, letters of administration give you the same rights as a grant of probate and will allow you to go about dealing with an estate in exactly the same way.
You will usually need a grant of probate if you are named as the executor in the will of someone who has died or if you are the nearest living relative of a person who dies intestate (without a will). You may not need probate if the person who died had jointly owned assets, as these will automatically pass to the surviving joint owner(s), or if they only had savings.
Only the named executors can apply for probate if there is a will.
If there isn’t a will, the closest living relative can apply for probate.
Probate applications can take up to eight weeks to process, depending on whether you need to provide any additional details and on the value and complexity of the estate.
Once you receive a grant of probate, it typically takes between six and 12 months for an estate to be fully distributed. The time it takes you to deal with the estate will depend on several factors, including the value and complexity of the estate and what instructions were left in any will.
Contact LawPlus today to get your personalised quote. You can speak to our probate specialists if you need additional assistance with valuing an estate, completing an inheritance tax return, or dealing with any other matters relating to an estate of which you are the executor or administrator.
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