When a loved one dies, managing their legal affairs and settling the finer details of their estate can be overwhelming and time consuming. Here, Craig Harman, a probate specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants, explains everything you need to know about probate.
Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions, i.e. their estate, when they die. If a loved one dies, then you may need to apply for a grant of representation to administer the estate. If the person left a Will appointing executors, a ‘grant of probate’ will be issued. In the event there are no executors able to act under the Will or there is no Will in place, ‘letters of administration’ will be issued.
In some circumstances, you may not need probate. For example, jointly owned land, property, shares or money may pass to the surviving owner automatically under the rules or survivorship. In addition, it is normally possible to release small bank balances without the need for a grant of probate.
If the deceased left a valid Will, the named executors would have the right to apply for probate.
If there is no Will, then the ‘administrator’ will deal with the estate. This is determined by the rules of intestacy but effectively this is the deceased’s closest living relatives in a set priority order, starting with the husband, wife or civil partner. Crucially unmarried partners are not included under the rules of intestacy.
A professional, such as a specialist probate accountant, will be able to help you with organising the application and any other tasks associated with administering the probate process.
If you are an executor but would prefer for a professional to act on your behalf, then you can appoint a probate specialist to assist you with the process.
You will usually receive a grant of probate or letters of administration within 8 weeks of sending the original documents. You should not make any financial plans or arrange the sale of any property until the grant of probate or letters of administration are received.
There is a wide range of responsibilities in the probate process. Tasks that will need to be undertaken include:
Administering probate can be a difficult and lengthy process - this is especially the case when a person dies without a valid Will in place.
During such difficult circumstances, probate can seem overwhelming for many people. Therefore, seeking a professional to assist with the probate process will help to ensure information is processed as quickly and painlessly as possible allowing you to grieve your loved one in peace.
For more help or information about how we can help you with probate, please get in touch with your local Perrys branch.