Probate is usually defined as the right to deal with a deceased individual’s estate. This is usually assumed by someone who was named as an executor in the deceased’s will or if there was no will then someone close to the deceased may apply in order to administer the estate. Continue reading for answers to some frequently asked questions regarding probate.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal term that is commonly used to describe both an application to execute/administer an estate and the official forms that give executors/administrators the right to deal with the deceased’s affairs. These forms prove to others that the individual who holds them has all necessary legal authority to deal with the estate.
What Kinds of Things Can Be Done with Probate?
Individuals who are granted probate must adhere to the wishes outlined in the deceased’s will. This includes dealing with all of the deceased’s assets, specifically his or her property, money and personal possessions. The grant of probate can be used to prove that the individual has the right to do these things. If there is no will, then the estate must be administered in the accordance with the laws of succession. In these cases, individuals who are granted letters of administration have the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate. However, at no time may these individuals simply do what they wish with the deceased’s estate.
What is a Grant of Confirmation?
A grant of confirmation is a term used in Scotland. If the deceased lived in Scotland, then a grant of confirmation is applied for in relation to probate.
Is a Grant of Probate Required for All Estates?
A grant of probate is not necessarily needed for all estates. If the deceased left less than £5,000 and all of his/her possessions were owned jointly with someone else (and therefore pass directly to the co-owner) then a grant of probate may not be needed. In order to establish if the estate meets these requirements, the executor/administrator should write directly to each institution involved and include copies of the death certificate and will in order to gain further information about the deceased’s assets. If the deceased held stocks or shares, insurance policies, or property and/or land held in his or her name (or as tenants in common) then a grant of probate will most likely be needed.
When Is Probate Granted?
Probate will not be granted to the executor/administrator of an estate until some, if not all, required inheritance tax is paid on the estate. A professional valuer or chartered surveyor may be able to help with valuing the estate in order to work out how much tax will be payable. A solicitor may also prove helpful with this process.
What Happens if There Is More than One Executor?
Up to four named executors can apply for a grant of probate and work together to execute the estate, though many times it is preferable that one executor is agreed upon to apply for the grant of probate and to sort out the will on his or her own.
Who Can Help With Probate?
A solicitor can apply for a grant of probate on behalf of the named executor. Many solicitors specialise in probate and will therefore be experienced in this matter. There will likely be a charge for their services, so inquire as to the cost before formally engaging the solicitor.