What is Probate?
When a person dies, someone has to deal with their financial affairs. This is called “administering the estate”. We realise this is a stressful time and we aim to offer a sympathetic and practical approach. It is important to find out at any early stage whether the deceased person left a Will, as this will usually specify who is entitled to administer the estate, as well as stating who is to inherit the assets.
What if I don’t make a Will?
If there is no Will, (known as dying “intestate”) the process is more complicated. There are strict rules governing who has the right to administer the estate of someone who dies intestate. Your assets do not necessarily pass wholly to your spouse. The person or people who administer the estate are called “Personal Representatives” (“PR’s”). The PR’s will usually have to apply for a grant of representation from the Probate Registry before they are able to deal with the assets. Where there is a Will, this is called a Grant of Probate and where there is no Will, this is called a Grant of Letters of Administration.
What does a Grant do?
A grant in essence is formal recognition that the person or people named within it are legally entitled to administer the estate. Usually, a grant will be needed if the assets within the estate:
• are valued at more than £5,000
• include stocks and shares
• include a house or land or includes certain insurance policies.
What do PR’s do?
It is the PR’s responsibility to pay all the debts and liabilities of the estate, (possibly including Inheritance Tax) and to ensure that the beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to.
How long does the administration take?
Administering an estate can often take quite some time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year or even longer if there are complications. Many organisations may be involved, for example banks, building societies, insurance companies, HM Revenue & Customs and The Department for Works and Pensions.
What if there is a dispute?
Unfortunately there are occasions when family members do not agree how an estate is to be distributed. Disagreements can arise, for example, concerning the validity of a will or a person may feel that they are not recieving a reasonable share of the assets. We have many years of experience dealing with such disputes and are able offer advice and if needed provide representation in court in order to resolve such disputes.