Explaining probate what happens when someone dies

When someone dies, explaining Probate

It’s a distressing time when a family member dies, however there is always more than the emotional impact to cope with, there is usually a large administrative burden too.

The process of dealing with the assets of someone who has died can be very time consuming and when you are grieving emotionally draining.

This is one of the reasons why families use a solicitor or specialist (such as Savigny) to help them achieve what is known as Probate.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal and financial process of dealing with the property, money and possessions of a person who has died.

In England and Wales (the rules are different in Scotland) Probate is the process of proving that a Will is valid if there is one and confirming who has the authority to administer the estate of the person who has died.

Before the next of kin or executor named in the Will can distribute or sell any of the deceased’s assets they might have to apply for a Grant of Probate.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A grant of probate is a legal document that is sometimes needed to access bank accounts, sell assets and settle debts after someone has died.

You can only apply for a grant of probate if the deceased has left a Will, if there is no Will a Grant of Letters of Administration has to be applied for. Both documents work in much the same way, giving a named person legal authority to deal with the estate of the person who died.

We can’t stress highly enough how important it is for you to have a Will as it sets out how your assets should be distributed after your death. If there is no Will the courts decide what happens to the deceased’s assets, which may not be to the liking of the remaining family.

It can get complicated

Without going into every single detail, the probate process often involves a lot of complicated legal, tax and financial work. If this is something you are not used to it can be frustrating, time consuming and add to your emotional burden.

To give you an idea, the following is just the first part of the process:

Identifying all of the deceased’s assets (property, investments and possessions) and all of their liabilities (debts ranging from loans to utility bills), to determine the value of their estate. At the same time, verifying who is entitled to inherit what from the estate, whether under the terms of the Will, or in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy if there isn't a Will, and obtaining the necessary identification documents for those beneficiaries.

We haven’t mentioned Inheritance Tax yet and how you will have to deal with HMRC or how you go about applying to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation.

Responsibility of the Executor

Legally if you have been named in a Will as the executor, something you should have agreed to, it is your responsibility to apply for probate.

We find that some people don’t realise they have been appointed as an executor in a Will and are therefore surprised to find they have this responsibility. In other cases, people do not realise that being an executor entails a potentially huge amount of work.

Whatever the situation as an executor you can appoint a specialist or a solicitor to help you with probate. You will still be involved in the process and will have to review and sign a variety of documents, but you will not have to do all the work yourself.

How a specialist can help

Initially a specialist such as Savigny will be happy to explain the probate and estate administration process and offer some guidance.

If you then chose to appoint us we will relieve you of the burden of doing all the hard work for obtaining the Grant of Probate and dealing with all the legal, tax, property and estate administration.

At Savigny we believe that everyone should be treated with respect, kindness and receive a caring personal service. We are happy to spend time with you, understanding your needs and helping you to accomplish probate with the minimum of burden to you.

For more information or if you have any questions about, Probate or writing a Will please contact Savigny Will Writers today.

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