What is probate and how does it work?

by | Jul 31, 2017 | Blog Posts

What needs to be done to do to deal with a loved one’s estate after their death? We explain probate and the steps that need to be taken.

What is probate?

Probate is the process that occurs following the death of a loved one whereby the executor or administrator is given authority to manage an individual’s estate: their money, property and possessions.

Was a will left?

If the deceased leaves a will (died ‘Testate’), then they will have named one or more authorised executors to deal with the estate.
If there is no will (died ‘Intestate’), any adult person who is entitled to benefit from the estate under the ‘rules of intestacy’ can apply to be the administrator of the estate. The rules of intestacy are the default rules that set out the priority of who benefits from an intestate estate which is:

  • Spouse;
  • Children (or their children if they have died);
  • Parents;
  • Siblings (or their children if they have died);
  • Uncles or aunts (or their children if they have died).

Siblings or uncles/aunts of the whole blood take priority over half blood relatives.

I am the executor/administrator. Now what happens?

In order to deal with the estate, a Grant of Representation is required. There are three types of grants available depending on your circumstances:

  • Grant of probate – required if you are the named executor in the will
  • Letters of Administration – required if there is no will and you are the administrator
  • Letters of Administration (with will) – required if there is a will but the applicant is not an executor

Whoever is named on the Grant of Representation is known as a Personal Representative of the estate.

What happens once the Grant is received?

This will depend on the individual estate and the role of a Personal Representative can vary considerably from estate to estate. Common steps that they will have to deal with include:

  • Paying any Inheritance Tax that is outstanding (a tax return is part of the application for the Grant of Representation);
  • Making sure all debts are paid;
  • Transferring or selling the deceased’s assets; and
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.

How long does probate take?

This ultimately depends on how complex the estate is. On average it tends to take between six to twelve months to complete but some estate can take much longer if there are any complications or disputes.
Dealing with someone’s will can seem overwhelming. However, we offer a range of services to make the process run as smoothly as possible. Call our wills and probate solicitors on 0800 988 7756 for a free initial chat.

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