What is probate?
Probate is the term used to describe the process of obtaining the legal right to manage a deceased person's estate and assets - such as possessions, property, and finances. You cannot access the deceased's funds or distribute their assets until you have obtained a grant of probate.
Once probate has been obtained, our expert legal team can assist in the administration of the estate - this is the period up until the point where all the assets are distributed and all matters regarding the deceased's estate have been settled.
What is a Grant of Probate?
A grant of probate is a legal document that confirms the authority of the executor and states entitlement to obtain access to the deceased's assets. The executor will need to apply for this document by registering an application with the directory of probate.
Do I need probate?
Following a bereavement, our team of expert legal and tax advisors will establish whether Probate or Estate Administration is required. Probate is usually required when:
- Distributing the deceased's assets and property
- The deceased held financial stocks or shares in their name
- If there are any disputes upon the distribution of assets and legal proceedings are required
When is probate not required?
Probate (if someone dies with a Will) and Administration (if a person dies without a Will) is not always necessary. Together these are known as a Grant of Representation. There are some situations where probate is not required, such as:
- If the deceased person was insolvent
- When the deceased person's possessions are jointly owned with another person
- If the deceased person's assets are below the worth of £5000 - usually no shares, land, or properties, also known as small estate.
How to apply for probate
In England and Wales in order to obtain the legal right to deal with the assets and possessions of a deceased person, you will need to apply for probate. Firstly you need to check if you are eligible to apply - this can be done by checking the official guidelines.
If you qualify to apply, our expert team can assist you in a personal application for probate or Administration, and prepare all the paperwork that needs to be submitted to HM Revenue & Customs at the Probate Registry.
How long does probate take?
If there are no legal disputes during the probate process then it usually takes around 4 to 12 weeks depending on the complexity of the estate.
What happens if there is no Will?
If someone has died without leaving a Will, or the Will left is invalid, the letters of administration will be required - this is an application that usually the next of kin such as a spouse, child over the age of 18, or civil partner will need to apply for in order to gain ownership of the deceased's assets.