What is probate?
Probate is a term used when talking about the process through which a person obtains the Court’s permission to deal with a deceased person’s estate. In Scotland, it is known as confirmation.
Before the next of kin or executor named in the will can claim, transfer, sell or distribute any of the deceased’s assets, they may have to apply for probate.
Why is it important to make a will?
A will is a legal statement explaining how you would like your estate to be dealt with after you pass away. It can assist with any uncertainty with regards to the handling of your estate and can also help with reducing the liability your estate has to pay inheritance tax.
An estate can include investments, businesses, money, personal effects, and property.
If you were to die without having made a will then intestacy rules would decide who inherits your estate. This may not necessarily be what you wished for, which is why making a will is so important. Our team of wills and probate solicitors can assist you with preparing, writing and updating a will.
When is probate required?
Probate will usually be required if, after payment of the funeral, the value of the estate in the sole name of the deceased is more than £5,000. Although some banks and other financial organisations have increased their threshold, this is down to their individual discretion. The legal threshold remains at £5,000. In the event of a death, our team of wills and probate solicitors can offer legal guidance and can act on your behalf when obtaining probate, to make the process as seamless as possible in your time of hardship.
When probate has been granted, the person who is named in the will is able to collect the assets of the estate, pay any debts and distribute the remaining estate to the beneficiaries. In practice, different terms are used for probate depending on whether or not the deceased person left a will.
The grant of representation refers to the type of probate that must first be obtained in order to carry out the administration of the estate. The kind of grant that will be needed depends on the circumstances, which are described as follows:
- If you are named an executor in the will – grant of probate, which is an order of the court, which confirms the authority of up to four people to administer the estate of a deceased person.
- If you are the administrator with no will – grant of letters of administration, which is an order of the court issued in cases where the deceased person did not make a will. The grant must be obtained before the deceased’s estate can be collected, the debts paid and distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
What is the probate process?
This often involves many complex legal, tax and financial work which can be broken down into different phases, all of which are covered by our probate solicitors.
- Identifying all of the deceased’s assets.
- Paying Inheritance Tax to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if required.
- Following the Grant of Representation, there are the settling liabilities.
- Preparing and sending out estate accounts.
- Transferring assets that the beneficiaries wish to retain, and distributing the balance of the Estate funds.
What happens if a will is not probated?
Failing to obtain probate for a will can have serious consequences for the beneficiaries, as this grants legal authority to deal with the assets of a deceased person. If probate is required for a will, but is not obtained after an individual dies, nobody will have the legal authority to access the assets. Instead, all of the assets outlined will be frozen and left in a state of limbo.
If probate is required, it’s important to begin the process without any delays. Our team of wills and probate solicitors can assist you throughout this process and act on your behalf if you don’t feel able to do this yourself.
Choosing Keogh’s wills and probate solicitors
An experienced legal advisor can really help during what can be a very stressful time for all involved. Our wills and probate solicitors understand that the process can be arduous and we have many years of experience in handling sensitive cases. We have been providing legal services to people in Manchester and the surrounding areas since 1733, with offices in Altrincham, Stockport, and Macclesfield.
Taking care of your will and, when the time comes, probate in a professional, efficient and approachable manner is something we have plenty of experience in. If you would like to talk to one of our team then please call us on 0161 928 9321 or fill out our contact form.
For more information on our costs for Probate, please click here.
We provide a bespoke high quality professional service. It is therefore important that we see our clients in person both at the start of the case and from time to time thereafter. Due to logistical and time constraints for both clients and ourselves, as a general rule most of our clients are based in the North West including Cumbria and the Peak District, North Wales, South and West Yorkshire and Staffordshire.