When someone dies, as well as the grieving process, there are unfortunately administrative tasks to be carried out such as obtaining a death certificate and arranging the funeral. There are also legal and financial duties to be carried out one of which is obtaining the grant of probate.
What is Probate?
Following the death of a loved one, there are a number of matters that need to be dealt with such as registering the death and arranging the funeral. For further information on those matters that need to be dealt with immediately following the death of a loved one, read our guide.
Probate is the process of dealing with the deceased’s possessions, including bank accounts, shares, day to day possessions and property, collectively known as the Estate. Probate is also a legal document, and the grant of probate is the first step in administering the estate of the deceased person.
Whilst the process of obtaining probate can be delayed, there may be practical reasons for beginning the process sooner rather than later:
- There may be financial concerns for family members
- There may be dependents that need to be protected
- Interest in inheritance tax begins to accrue 6 months after the end of the month of death
- There is a deadline for filing the inheritance tax account of 12 months form the end of the month in which the person died.
Usually, Executors are appointed in the Deceased’s will and are legally responsible for the administration of the estate. The Executors will deal with any debts of the estate, and distribute the assets to any beneficiaries.
If the deceased has prepared a will, then the executors will deal with the estate according to the wishes of the deceased as set out in the will. If there is no will, then the estate will be administered according to the applicable Law at the time. A relative or beneficiary will usually become the administrator of a person’s estate.
What Happens if there is a Will
A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person’s wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death and as to which person is to manage the property until its final distribution. The person names to deal with the deceased property is known as an executor.
An executor’s appointment in the Will begins at the date of death. The appointment is not however confirmed until the Probate Registry issues a grant of probate authorising the executors to collect in assets and pay debts,
Executors have legal authority to make decisions and deal with many aspects of the estate immediately. The role of an executor is an important, lifelong position, with rights, responsibilities and potential financial consequences if things go wrong. If any claims come up in the future from the estate, it will be up to the original executors to sort them out. If you are an executor appointed in a Will, you may be uncertain about taking on the role, our experienced team at Hodders can advise and help you if you are in any doubts. If you still do not wish to take the role, the deceased person’s (other) family members and Probate Registry should be informed. Please note; you may not be able to ‘renounce’ probate (step down from being an executor) if you have done anything which indicates that you have accepted the role so contact your probate practitioner as soon as possible.
What Happens if there is no Will
If there is no Will, the situation is a little more complex. The Probate Registry will have to grant what is know as a Letter of Administration before any decisions on the estate can be taken. The grant of letters of administration appoints the administrators and authorises them to collect in the assets and pay debts. The grant cannot be applied for until the estate has been properly valued and any tax paid and there is nobody officially in charge until that point. Accordingly it can be more complex, time consuming and expensive than the position where the deceased person left a Will. Administrators are effectively governed by the intestacy rules. These rules establish the person or people entitled to take out the grant and who will inherit the estate. The complex rules can be explained in more details by Hodders Solicitor’s expert probate team. In many cases it will be the deceased person’s surviving spouse or civil partner and/or their children who are able to apply to be administrators.
Personal Representatives’ Rights and Responsibilities
The term personal representative refers to both Executors (if there is a will) or administrators(if there is no will in place).
Responsibilities of the personal representatives include:
- Making sure that the assets of the deceased person are safe and secure.
- Determining what assets and liabilities the deceased person had at death.
- Submit an inheritance tax form to HMRC and the probate registry
- Collect all assets and pay any debts due.
- Advertise the death so that any creditors can come forward make a claim.
- Settle any IHT liability
- Distribute any remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will or according to the probate rules if there was no will in place.
Once the PR is granted probate or the letter of administration , the executor has the right to deal with the assets of the deceased person such as banks.
Make A Free, No Obligation Enquiry
If you are a PR and you need advice or you want our probate professionals to handle the process, we are here to help you, so if you would like to speak with one of our specialists, call us now on 0808 168 8677 or complete the Free Online Enquiry and we will be delighted to help you.
Contested Wills and Probate
Sometimes there may be doubts over whether w will is valid or not, or there may be disputes as to the beneficiaries in a will. In these instances the will and therefore the probate, will be contested. At Hodders Solicitors we deal with all kinds of contested probate.
Dealing with Overseas Assets
Many of our clients have overseas assets and affairs that need to be dealt with. We have experience of dealing with clients from all over the world, including the Caribbean, India, Kenya,and Australia. Our network of legal representatives allows us to efficiently attend to overseas probates.
At Hodders Law we have a probate team of specialist solicitors and administrative staff. We can deal with estates of all sizes, as well as any inheritance tax implications of estates over the inheritance tax threshold.