Despite some legal jargon, probate is usually a simple process and one that a solicitor, or a licensed probate practitioner, can guide you through with ease. You can apply for probate without the aid of a legal professional, but a solicitor will be able to complete the process and make any formal applications on your behalf. Engaging a solicitor means that you can deal with the personal and emotional aspects of a death without worrying about the legal side of things.
When there's a will
If there is a will in place the deceased will most likely have named one or more people as executors, giving them the power to carry out the wishes held within the will and administer the estate. If you are a named executor, your solicitor will need to apply for a grant of probate, a document that makes your handling of the estate official.
In cases where there is a will, your solicitor will typically be able to guide you through the basic steps to execute the estate effectively.
What do we need to do after obtaining a grant of probate?
- Apply to access the deceased\'s finances and other accounts.
- Pay any inheritance tax due before the estate can be passed to any beneficiaries.
- Collect the assets from the estate (usually by selling property) and pay off any outstanding bills or debts.
- Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the directions in the will.
What if there's no will?
It's not unusual for somebody to die without leaving a will, but it can make the process more complicated. If you wish to act as administrator of the estate, a solicitor can help you apply for letters of administration from the court. If more than one person intends to be the administrator, the law follows an order of priority based on relation to the deceased. This typically results in the closest living family member being given the responsibility.
Do you always need a probate?
Not always, no. Probate only comes into effect if the person who died left more than £5000 owned stocks and shares or owned property. If the deceased had none of those things or owned them with another, such as a partner, then probate is not needed and any joint assets will pass to their survivors.
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