Probate – What is it and do I need it?
12 April 2018 by James Bird
Losing a loved one is a tough time for anyone and for some, time simply seems to stop. No matter how much we try to prepare for someone passing, when the time comes it never seems enough. Whilst obtaining the death certificate and organising the funeral are without a doubt two of the most important things to do as quickly as possible, many will hear the term Grant of Probate or Probate said to them by lots of people and companies. But what exactly is Probate?
The Grant of Probate (or Probate) is a legal document which gives an executor the legal right to deal with the assets of a deceased. If the deceased left a Will, they will appoint executors who have the role of dealing with the administration of an estate. This includes bringing all of the deceased’s assets together (selling them where needed), paying off any debts they had (such as funeral costs, mortgages, loans etc) and then distributing the estate according to the terms of the Will.
In most circumstances, a Grant of Probate will be required for the executors. This document confirms the authority of the executors to deal with the assets of the deceased. In many instances, account holders, banks, life insurance providers (to name but a few) will require a copy of the Grant of Probate before they release funds to the executors. If the deceased owned any property in their sole name then a Grant of Probate will always be required.
In order to apply for the Grant of Probate, the executors will need to ascertain the value of the deceased’s assets as of the date of death (and any debts they may have had as well). The relevant tax forms would then need to be completed (these depend on the assets of the deceased, and whether tax is payable), along with an oath which is sworn before a solicitor. The application is then sent to the Probate Registry and hopefully, the Grant of Probate should be issued a few weeks later.
There are some instances when a Grant of Probate may not be required such as:
- If the estate is relatively small
- The deceased did not own any property (for example they might have rented it)
- All assets were in joint names with someone
- All assets pass to a surviving spouse.
Losing a loved is always difficult and the administration of an estate can often be a stressful process. At Fisher Jones Greenwood we offer a free initial 1 hour probate appointment to discuss the administration of an estate. We are then able to tailor our services to assist in any way required, and if not to point you in the right direction for the way ahead. Helpful information packs can also be found on our website here.
If you have any questions about dealing with an estate or would like to book a free initial appointment to discuss an estate then please do not hesitate to contact our Wills, Life Planning and Probate team on 01206 700113 or email [email protected].