When someone we love dies, it can be difficult to understand or even think about what we need to do next.
In order to distribute their assets to the beneficiaries a grant of probate has to be obtained from the probate registry. This authorises the executors to conduct the probate and to make distributions to the beneficiaries.
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A grant of probate is a document that shows the executors have the legal authority to sort out the accounts, paperwork and estate of someone that has passed away.
If you are named as the executor in someone’s will, you may need to apply for a grant of probate to have the authority to fulfil their wishes. When a grant of probate has been approved, you can act on behalf of the deceased as dictated by their will.
If there is no will and so no executors are named, or the executors named on a will are unable to carry out their duties, you may need to apply for a grant of letters of administration, or a grant of letters of administration with will annexed, respectively. This document will give you the authority to deal with someone else’s estate.
When a close family member passes away and you are going to inherit their wealth based on the laws of intestacy, you may still need to apply for a grant of letters of administration,enabling you to become the administrator of the estate.
It is important to note that probate is usually only needed if the total value of the estate is over £10,000 or the estate includes several solely-owned assets.
How long does the probate process take?
The process itself can take several months, but once probate has been approved, the time taken to complete the process will vary based on how much is left in the will and the size of the estate or inheritance.
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The probate process can be complicated and lengthy, and we advise instructing an expert to undertake the work for you. However, if you intend to complete the process yourself, there are three steps you need to follow.
If probate is required, the first thing you need to do is find out everything you can about the deceased’s estate. When a will has been left, this should already be listed. If a will has not been left, you will need to track down the information yourself. You need to create a list of the deceased’s assets that includes any houses or property they owned, their bank accounts, pension, life insurance, stocks and shares, debts and gifts given in the last seven years.
As well as creating a list of assets, you also need to work out the value of each asset.
Applying for grant of probate requires lengthy paperwork, and at this stage, you must complete a probate application form and the correct inheritance tax form (either IHT205, IHT217 or IHT400).
It is essential that these forms are completed correctly because any mistakes can result in avoidable delays that can drag out what can often be an emotional process.
Once you are sure all forms are correct and they have been sent and approved, you’ll receive your approved application in the post approximately 6 weeks later.
The third step requires you to deal with any administration such as paying taxes, closing bank accounts, communication with insurers and pension providers, paying debts, selling any property, and of course, distributing the inheritance.
We understand how stressful dealing with probate can be for our clients, and we offer a complete service to help you navigate such a difficult time with ease.
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