Probate is the process of sorting out an individual’s money, debts, property and possessions when they have passed away. If you’re appointed the executor of someone’s will then you’re responsible for carrying out probate.
The probate process
There are 4 main stages of probate
- Assess the total value of estate and if it’s liable for inheritance tax
- Apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate and submit an inheritance tax form to the tax office
- Pay off any inheritance tax due and swear an oath at the solicitor’s office or the Probate Registry
- Administer the estate by collating assets, paying off debts and distributing the remainder according to the will
You may choose to do probate yourself, although this can be very time-consuming. Many people choose to appoint a solicitor to help them along the way. Even though this comes with a certain cost, it could save thousands of pounds in the long-run by greatly reducing any potential mistakes made in the process.
There are some circumstances in which you’ll definitely need a solicitor:
- The person died without making a will
- There’s a possibility the will is invalid
- The estate value exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold because it’s still bringing in a regular income
- The estate includes overseas property or assets
- The estate may go bankrupt / is bankrupt
- Some of the assets are held in a trust
- Dependants of the deceased have been purposefully left out of the will but may want to make a claim on the estate
- The deceased lived outside the UK for tax reasons
When is probate needed?
Probate is required if the deceased owned property including houses, land or buildings. Furthermore, if the person held assets with a certain bank then you’ll need to enquire about the bank’s threshold amount, as each bank sets its own limit. A Grant of Representation will be needed to claim assets from the bank or other financial institutions.
Probate without a will
Sometimes a person may die without making a will – this is known as dying intestate or intestacy. The law will decide how to distribute assets including everything from money to pets. Intestacy rules don’t tend to acknowledge unmarried couples, step children, step siblings and unregistered partners. As a result, it’s essential to make a will during your lifetime, especially if your family includes any of these relationships.