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Everything You Need to Know About Probate

When a loved one passes away it is, understandably, a time to grieve and celebrate their life. Whilst it can be painful, there are aspects of their life that somebody will need to look after on their behalf. Whilst many assume that being next of kin or noted in a will is enough to grant access over assets, it is not that simple.

What is probate?

Keeping things simple, probate is a court order which allows an individual to apply for and deal with the assets and affairs of somebody who has passed away. If you are next of kin or have been named as Executor in a will, you will need to apply for probate before you can claim, transfer, sell or distribute any assets left by the deceased person.

Will you always need to apply for probate?

Whether or not the person who has passed away left a will or not, you will apply for probate in the same way. If they left a will you will get a ‘grant of probate’. If they didn’t, you will get ‘letters of administration’.

You will not need to apply for probate if the following applies:

  • If the deceased has joint owned assets – these will automatically pass to the surviving parties
  • If the deceased only had savings or premium bonds

If you are in charge of proceedings you may need to contact each asset holder (such as a bank or mortgage company) to see if you will need probate to gain access. Each organisation has its own rules and a phone call will soon iron this out.

The probate process

The probate process can be confusing, particularly if you are not au fait with legal, tax and financial jargon. We have broken down the five core elements below.

  1. All of the deceased’s assets, such as property, investments and possessions will be put against any debts they have to determine a final value of their estate. During this time you, as the beneficiary, will be verified by providing identification documents.
  2. At this point, Inheritance Tax needs to be paid and an Inheritance Tax return submitted. An Inheritance Tax form will need to be submitted even if no tax needs to be paid. You will also need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation.
  3. Once you have been given access (Grant of Representation) by the Probate Registry, the deceased’s assets can be sold and any liabilities settled. This is the opportunity to get everything in order.
  4. During this process, the estate will document all payments in and out. The final plan will be sent to the Personal Representatives for approval, detailing where the assets will go.
  5. If the previous phase goes smoothly and there is no challenge to the estate, the beneficiaries will receive the assets stated. At this point, they can make it known what they will be doing with inherited assets.

If you require any more guidance with probate, the government website contains a lot of information on wills, probate and inheritance. If you have inherited a house that you wish to sell, contact us on 0808 252 7933 to find out how we can help sell your property quickly.

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