Will you be in charge when your loved ones are gone?

01 August 2017

When someone dies, they leave behind all their possessions. This might include property, money in the bank, and even their pet dog Rover. They can also leave behind debts, such as outstanding bills that haven't been paid, or a bank loan.

All of these things will need to be sorted out. You might think that your family and friends can step in when you pass away, organising whatever needs to be done. But unfortunately it's not quite as easy as that.

First, your loved ones would have to get the legal authority to deal with your affairs. To do this, they'd need to go through a process called 'Probate'. Without this, they wouldn't have the power to do things like access your bank accounts or sell your property.

How much does it cost?

At the moment, the Probate Registry charges a flat fee of £215 if your loved ones apply for Probate, or £155 if they use a legal professional. But this is expected to change, and it's likely that as of May 2017 the fee will be calculated according to the total value of your assets, so it all depends on what you're worth.

According to a Government accouncement, if everything you own amounts to less than £50,000, then there will be nothing to pay. But for people who leave behind between £50,000 and £300,000, the fee will be £300. This sliding scale continues to increase, so that for individuals who own more than £2million in assets, the Probate fee will be £20,000.

Your loved ones will need to pay this fee using the money you leave behind.

Is Probate always needed?

It's true that Probate isn't always needed. For instance, if you're married and you die first, everything will often pass to your husband or wife and Probate won't be necessary. Also if you own very little, your bank may release the funds without someone having to go through Probate.

But in most other situations, your loved ones will need the legal authority to finalise your affairs. This can be both stressful and time-consuming, as there are lots of different steps to complete. In a nutshell, these include:

  1. Setting out the value of everything you owned
  2. Sending forms to the Probate Registry
  3. Paying any tax that's due, such as Inheritance Tax
  4. Selling off or transferring any assets, like your property
  5. Paying off your debts
  6. Handing out inheritances to your family and friends
  7. Preparing some accounts that show all the incomings and outgoings

Who applies for Probate?

So Probate can be a pretty big job. You might wonder who, exactly, is supposed to carry this out after you've passed away. You may have very particular ideas about who you would, or would not, want to wind-up your affairs.

Well, it all depends on whether or not you have a Will. When you make a Will, you're allowed to choose people to be 'Executors'. These are the people who have the responsibility of applying for Probate when you die.

This is one of the many benefits of getting a Will. Not only will you have the peace of mind that your affairs are being managed by someone you trust, your loved ones will have a clear understanding of who needs to do what.

Having a Will in place can also make the whole Probate process much easier. This is because your Executors will be able to prove to organisations, such as banks, that you wanted them to deal with your assets.

Without a Will, the person who can apply for Probate is the person who is set to inherit your assets. Unless you write a Will, you don't decide who this is. Instead, there's a set of laws that determine who receives your money. This might not be the person you would have chosen.

You might be reluctant to place the burden of being an Executor onto your family and friends. However, it's important to note that they can get professional help from a Probate Specialist at any point.

At Co-op Legal Services, we can take full responsibility for the Probate process, dealing with all the paperwork on someone else's behalf.

For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will call you.

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