Wills & Probate | What Is Probate?
Updated: Jun 7
Losing a loved one is undoubtedly one of the most challenging experiences in life. The emotional pain that comes with the loss is often overwhelming, and it can be hard to deal with the practical issues that arise when someone dies. Questions like "Is there a Will?" and "Who is going to deal with their estate?" can be daunting, especially when you're grieving.
Probate is the process that encompasses all of these questions and enables other people to manage the execution of someone’s Will, if there is one, or apply the laws of intestacy where there isn’t a Will. It will also legally allow you access to your loved one’s bank accounts and financial affairs, so you can administer these.
In order to start probate, you will need to apply for it. You can do this on your own, but using a Solicitor will ensure that the process is followed correctly and will take some of the burden from you if you are next of kin.
Steps of Probate
The first thing that should happen is the locating of the Will. Hopefully, your loved one has made a Will and has appointed an Executor. This will make the process much easier as you have the direction from your loved one and their wishes and you will not have to follow the restrictive rules of intestacy that apply when there is no Will. If there is no Will, a next of kin will have to apply for probate rather than the executor.
Your next step in the probate process is to apply for the Grant. This is done by completing a probate application form along with inheritance tax forms. There is some additional work that needs to be completed prior to applying for the Grant though, but we will not delve into this here.
You will need to know how much the estate is worth in order to calculate the inheritance tax and additionally, you will have to pay some of the inheritance tax owed by the estate before you have the legal right to access bank accounts and you may have to pay this yourself.
Once this has been completed you will need to swear an oath and give testament to the fact that the information you have given is true. You will then be issued with the Grant.
Dealing with the practical issues that arise when a loved one dies can be challenging, but understanding the probate process can make it easier. Whether your loved one left a Will or not, probate can help you manage their estate, access their financial affairs, and ensure that their wishes are carried out. If you're dealing with the loss of a loved one, it's essential to seek legal advice to understand the probate rules in your area and get the support you need to navigate this difficult time.
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The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute professional advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal, accountancy or financial advice as appropriate on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor, Accountant or Financial Advisor/Mortgage Broker before you embark on any course of action.