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Probate - the deceased's estate

Probate - the deceased's estate


What is Probate? 

‘Probate’ is the phrase used by solicitors to mean the process of dealing with someone’s assets (known as their ‘estate’) after they have died.

  • Applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die is often called ‘Applying for Probate’ and the legal document is called a ‘Grant of Representation’

  • If the person left a Will, you’ll obtain a ‘Grant of Probate’. A Grant of Probate will only be issued to the Executor/s named in the Will.

  • If the person did not leave a Will, you’ll obtain a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’. Who is entitled to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration will depend upon whether there is a surviving spouse or other surviving relatives. If there is not a valid Will, the rules of intestacy apply.

Steps to take before seeing a solicitor

Read our helpful guide:
4 Important Steps for registering a death in the family - explains the actions you need to take, the priorities and critical information you will need along the way
click here

4 steps snippett

Complete our Interactive Probate Form:
To provide information for a Grant of Probate/Letters to Admin application, click here or scan the QR code. When you press 'submit' we will receive the data securely at Lawson-West and will contact you to discuss the application.

 QR code probate
  • Obtain a death certificate for the person who has died, as a solicitor will be unable to discuss the estate without one. How to register a death in the UK

  • Find out if the person who has died had a Will. If they did, it will need to be located and the person or people named as Executors will need to be the people in charge of managing the estate.

  • If you are unsure about whether the Will is the last Will that was made or if you can’t find a Will, it is advisable to carry out a search of the National Will Register (the national register is called 'Certainty'). We can help you with making this search as part of our service.

  • Make a list of the assets that the person owned at the time of their death, this could include property, shares, pensions, savings. Where known, make a note of the names of bank accounts, savings and investments schemes, life insurance policies and mortgages that you're aware of for the deceased. This list should include details of any assets outside of the UK.

Doing these things will enable a solicitor to help the Executors apply for a Grant of Probate, which will enable them to distribute the estate, or advise upon who can make an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration and how the estate must be distributed.

What is the role of an Executor?

You appoint an Executor (or Executors) when you make your Will. An Executor is a trusted person who will act on your behalf in matters to do with your estate upon your death.  Executors can be family members or friends, or you can ask a solicitor to be an Executor.

  • An Executor has the legal power to deal with the deceased’s affairs after their death and can start to cash-in assets. Some financial institutions may require your Executor to obtain a Grant of Probate from the Court before releasing the funds or closing the account.
  • The Grant of Probate is legal confirmation from the Court that the Will is valid.
  • Once the Grant has been issued, it means that the Will has been officially registered and the Executors named in the Will are the only ones with authority to deal with the Estate.

Being someone's Executor or Administrator can be a time-consuming task with a lot of administration and an Executor/Administrator can ask a Solicitor to assist them to manage specific tasks. Acting as an Executor or Administrator involves:

  • registering the death

  • arranging the funeral

  • finding the Will 

  • valuing the estate 

  • paying any inheritance tax to HMRC

  • applying for probate

  • sorting the deceased's finances

  • placing a deceased estates notice

  • paying outstanding debts

  • paying any additional tax due to HMRC

  • keeping estate accounts

  • distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will.

The Executor/Administrator has a duty to maintain accurate records and ensure that no stone is left unturned. After the estate has been distributed to beneficiaries there should be no loose ends, no unforgotten assets coming out of the woodwork, or missed liabilities, and no room for a contested probate.

What happens once the Grant of Representation has been granted?

All companies involved in the estate must be contacted and all assets must be collected by the Executors/Administrators. All liabilities must then be paid and at that point any gifts either in a Will or through intestacy can be distributed. For Executors/Administrators:

  • Do I need to keep accounts? The Executors/Administrators must compile proper accounts, showing the figures at the date of death and all the payments and receipts since then.

  • How long will it take? It is almost impossible to predict at the start of dealing with an estate how long it is going to take. Traditionally, people talk about the “Executor’s year”. In some cases everything is concluded within 12 months, although it can take more or less time than this. For estates where there is no inheritance tax to pay, we would suggest that 9 months would be the average timescale (if there is no property to sell or transfer). For larger, more complicated estates it could be longer than this – in some extreme cases (usually involving complicated trusts or very valuable estates), it can take several years.

    Delays can occur where there is a property to sell and a buyer cannot be found, or the property is being sold during a slow economic market.

 

We're here to help. 

Probate strip photo

If you are daunted by the whole probate process, don't be. At Lawson-West Solicitors our Probate and Wills team is made up of friendly and experienced people who can help with the right advice following the death of a loved one.

Our qualified lawyers and solicitors manage the Grant of Representation and administration process for multiple clients every day and often we're the 'appointed' Executors. We know and understand the most efficient way to gain a Grant of Representation and we can assist Executors and Administrators in their role to understand important documentation, manage applications, and we can take on much of the burden of administration if required. 

To make an initial enquiry and to discuss your needs in greater detail, please Contact us here and we will be in touch.

Call 0116 212 1000 for our Leicester Office,  01858 445 480 for our Market Harborough Office or 0116 212 1080 for our Wigston Office. Whichever office you call, someone will be available to assist you.

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