Understanding Probate & Estate Administration
When a person dies, someone has to deal with the affairs of the person who has passed away. This person(s) is either named in the Will or is the next of kin if there is no valid Will.
They are legally responsible for collecting in all the money, paying any debts and correctly distributing the estate to those people entitled; the beneficiaries. This whole process is called estate administration and part of the process may involve having to apply for “probate.”
Probate is the process of obtaining a legal document from the Probate Registry to prove you have authority to deal with the estate.
A Grant of Probate is the official court-sealed document issued by the Probate Registry that includes a copy of the deceased's Will. It is called a Grant of Letters of Administration if there is no Will, but the document serves the same purpose.
For example, probate is often required before banks will release large sums of money or before a property can be sold. A Grant of Probate is confirmation of legal authority, therefore ensuring funds are released to the correct person.
Around half of all estates require probate and it is principally down to the value of assets that are held in the deceased’s sole name. It is worth noting that having a Will does not determine whether Probate is required, as is a common misconception.
Dealing with an estate involves a series of tax, legal and administrative activities, such as contacting financial institutions, paying any tax owed, closing bank accounts, paying debts and dealing with any legal work in the Will. These are all areas that may need to be dealt with irrespective of whether the legal process of Probate is needed or not.
It is possible to deal with a simple estate yourself or you can appoint a professional to do some or all of the required work for you.
If you would like advice on what to do next or have a question regarding probate, then please call our estate administration specialist helpline on freephone 0800 014 7334.