When someone dies, you’ll need to get the legal right to deal with their property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’).
England and Wales
You may be able to apply for a ‘grant of representation’ – known as ‘probate’.
Most cases follow the same basic process.
1. Check if there’s a will – this normally states who sorts out the estate. If there’s no will the next of kin can apply.
2. Apply for a Grant of Probate/ Letters of Administration – this gives you the legal right to access things like the person’s bank account.
3. Pay any Inheritance Tax that’s due.
4. Collect the estate’s assets, for example money from the sale of the person’s property.
5. Pay any debts, for example unpaid utilities bills.
6. Distribute the estate – this means giving any property, money or possessions to the people entitled to it (‘beneficiaries’).
A grant of representation can sometimes be known as a ‘grant of probate’, ‘letters of administration’ or ‘letters of administration with a will’.
Is Probate needed?
If an Estate is valued above the Probate threshold, and the assets (everything he/she owned) were held in the deceased’s sole name, then Probate will be needed – even if he/she left a valid Will.
Whether or not probate is required is not dependent on whether the person died intestate (without making a Will) or whether they left a Will. Probate is required for all estate over a certain value that do not automatically pass to a surviving joint owner.
It is however very important to make sure whether or not there was a Will as this will most certainly influence matters. For example the Will usually outlines who will be the Executors and the beneficiaries. If there isn’t a Will then it is the Intestacy rules that will determine who the beneficiaries of the estate will be.
If you are unsure about whether probate is needed, you can contact our friendly probate team here at Castelo Solicitors to advise further.
In order to obtain this document in England or Wales, an application will need to be made to the Probate Registry (Court). Once granted, the document enables an appointed person to deal with any assets, property and money that the deceased person owned.
As the steps above demonstrate, the process of obtaining Probate involves a significant amount of legal, administrative and tax work. This process can take months and can have serious repercussions if mistakes are made. Contact us today to see how Castelo Solicitors can help you with the probate process.