When someone dies it is difficult to know where to start. The first couple of weeks will probably be taken up with getting the medical certificate, registering the death, and making the funeral arrangements.
Once the funeral is over, you then have to think about how to deal with the estate of the deceased. There are a number of different options that could be available. These depend on your loved one's personal circumstances.
There are a number of steps to the Probate process. Simply put, they are:
- Check if there is a Will
- Pay any Inheritance Tax due
- Apply to get a 'Grant of Representation', often referred to as a Grant of Probate or just Probate
- Collect the assets of the estate
- Pay any debts owed by the estate
- Distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries.
Is there a Will?
The first question you need to address is whether there is a Will. The Will is an important document which details the wishes of the person who died. It should name one or more Executors of the estate. The person or people who are appointed can decide if they want to act as Executor or not. Once you have found the Will, you can decide whether to manage the Probate process yourself or if you want someone else to do it for you.
Do I need to obtain a Grant of Probate?
In some cases, Probate is not required. This is usually where the estate is of a lower value or does not include a property or land. If there is land or a property, then Probate could be needed. If the estate is made up of lower value cash assets and belongings such as jewellery or a car, then Probate is not usually needed.
In England and Wales, this will normally be decided by the banks and building societies that hold the money on behalf of the person who died. Each financial institution has set their own limits, above which Probate is needed before funds can be released. Some will have limits as low as £5,000 and some as high as £50,000. This usually determines whether or not you need Probate.
What if there is no Will?
If there is no Will, there is a legal rule that says who can administer the estate. It starts with the next of kin of the person who died. This is usually a spouse or civil partner, or one of their children. If you are entitled to, you can apply for a Grant of Representation to be named administrator of the estate. This allows you to distribute it to the relevant family members, following the rules of Intestacy. These rules decide how an estate is distributed if there is no Will to do this.
How do I decide if I want to do Probate myself?
Probate can be a lengthy process, sometimes taking between 6 and 12 months. Probate for more complex estates can take even longer. There is a lot of highly detailed administration work involved. This includes:
- Preparing the estate accounts
- Following all relevant legal processes
- Writing numerous letters and telephone calls to let everyone know about the death
- Obtaining all the information you need to move forward with Probate
Before you decide if you want to complete Probate yourself, you need to think carefully about whether this is something you have the time and energy to do. If you work full time or you have a family, taking on the additional burden of Probate may be too much.
I don't want to do Probate myself
Don't worry, we can take the Probate process off your hands and make the whole thing as stress free and as simple for you as possible.
We offer a Probate Complete Service, which is a complete Probate and estate administration solution. This allows you to hand everything over to our Probate specialists and we'll do all the work for you.
As part of this services you will be offered a free in-home visit with one of our experienced Probate Consultants to talk through the process. You'll then be given a designated Probate Case Handler, who will be with you from the start of the process, through to completion.
We know how difficult it can be to lose someone you love, and Probate can often be the last thing you want to do.
If you would like to discuss how we can help you with Probate, please call our advisory team now on 01618558359 or contact us online and we will help you.