What is Probate?
Probate is the name given to the process of sorting out someone’s affairs once they have died.
This includes listing all the assets, paying bills, outstanding debts and taxes and distributing the estate in accordance with the Will or Intestacy Rules.
The complexity and length of time the probate process takes will depend on whether the estate is complicated or straight forward. One thing’s for certain, having a Will in place will definitely help!
If a Will is in place, the probate process is much more straightforward. The named Executors will be responsible for collecting the assets, paying all liabilities and correctly distributing the estate.
By applying for a legal document called a ‘grant of probate’, they will have the authority to deal with the deceased’s property, investments and possessions. The grant of probate is the proof banks and various other companies need in order to release the deceased’s assets.
If there is no Will, the estate is usually dealt with by an administrator; typically a family member who will need to apply for ‘letters of administration’.
In a similar way to a grant of probate, letters of administration give the administrator the authority to deal with the estate.
When is Probate Required?
If the person who has died leaves total assets worth £5,000 or more in their sole name, then Probate is usually required. These assets may include:
• Stocks and shares
• Certain insurance policies
If the value is less than £5,000, or if everything is jointly owned with a partner, then probate will not usually be necessary unless:
• The bank or building society insists on it
• There are insurance policies which need to be paid to the
estate rather than a specific beneficiary
• The person who has died gave away any substantial assets
within the last 7 years (in this case these assets would still be
classed as part of the estate)
You can get a quote for probate services from Over50choices. Our team of qualified experts will give you a fixed price up front so you can be sure there are no hidden costs.
How does Probate work?
The Executor of Will or Administrator is responsible for dealing with the deceased’s estate which includes:
• Collecting together all of their financial documentation
• Contacting all organisations that hold their money to
- Notify them of the death
- Send them a copy of the death certificate
- Ask them for confirmation of the value of money held at the time of death
- Ask them for information on the amount of income received during the last tax year
- Request that all accounts are frozen
• Opening a bank account of behalf of the estate
• Establishing details of all money owed to the estate
• Establishing details of all money owed by the person who has died
• Preparing a detailed list of property, money, possessions and debts
• Working out and arranging to pay any inheritance tax owed
• Preparing and sending off any documents required by the probate registry and HMRC
• Collecting in money belonging to the estate from banks, insurance companies, pension funds and building societies
• Paying off any outstanding debts, expenses and fees
• Sharing out the estate according to the Will or rules of intestacy
If the estate is complicated or there are insufficient funds to cover outstanding debts and other expenses, it may be worth getting advice from a solicitor.