What does Probate mean?
This is the name given to the process of dealing with someone’s estate when they are no longer here. The literal meaning of the word comes from Latin “probare” to test or prove. It is the Will that is being proved in court to ensure that it is a valid document and that it is the last will and testament of the person who has died.
Probate is required if any one asset in the estate is over a certain value and this figure does differ depending on the financial institution that you are dealing with. E.g. some banks will say over £10,000 whilst others would only require one if the account is over £20,000.
Once it is established that probate is required, an application would need to be made to the Court for a Grant of Probate. The Probate Registry is a section of the court that deals with all probate applications. The Grant of Probate is the official document that allows the executor special permission to deal with the assets and liabilities in the estate of the deceased person.
What steps involved in Probate?
There are two stages involved to apply for probate:
- Reporting to HMRC what are the assets and liabilities of the estate and if there are any taxes including inheritance taxes due to pay.
- Applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate by way of signing a Statement of Truth.
The Will names the person(s) who will take charge of dealing with the estate known as the executor(s). However, if there is no Will, then under the laws of intestacy, there is a specific order of individuals who can apply for a grant in the deceased estate. They are known as “administrators” and they apply for “a Grant of Letters of Administration”.
The length of time it takes to obtain the grant and distribute the estate varies enormously from estate to estate depending on the complexity and size and also number of executors and dealing with them throughout. How long does probate take outlines the steps in more detail.
Once the grant has been obtained the executor/administrator can then continue with the legal process of administering the estate by paying any debts and distributing the estate according to the terms of the will (or laws of intestacy).
Will I need a Probate solicitor?
A probate solicitor is not always required, this would depend on whether the executor is quite able to deal with such matters and also, at such a difficult time, an executor who is closely connected to the deceased may find it overwhelming. The probate solicitors that we use are not only experienced in this area of the law but are sensitive to clients’ needs and concerns when handling their cases. They will give holistic advice throughout to ensure that all aspects of the work are covered. Sometimes it is necessary to sign a Deed of Variation after probate for inheritance tax planning for the beneficiaries or a fairer distribution is needed. Contact SCL Wills and Probate for a free initial consultation on 0203 004 8269.