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Probate Explained

Posted on November 5th 2021

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a difficult and unique experience for many people. It can be particularly overwhelming if you have never been through the process before.

At Oliver & Co Solicitors we pride ourselves on offering a considerate and compassionate service to our clients during this difficult time. We aim to make the process as straightforward for you as possible. The key stages of the process are detailed below.

Finding a Will

The first step is to establish whether the deceased made a Will and the whereabouts of the original Will, as the original Will may need to be submitted to the Probate Registry. It is important to be sure that you have found the last Will. If you are unsure whether the deceased made a Will or a more recent Will then you may carry out a Will search online. This is certainly something we can do on your behalf if we are instructed to deal with the Estate. The Will search puts out an alert to the local solicitors’ firms and asks them to check their records for a Will. If the deceased did not make a Will, then the process will be different, and the intestacy rules may apply.

The initial meeting

We will be able to have a no initial obligation conversation with you about the next steps in the administration of the Estate. It is important to note that we can only have this discussion with the Executors if there is a Will or the closest family members where there is no Will. We will discuss whether it is necessary to apply for a Grant. The Grant of Probate (or Grant of Letters of Administration where the deceased did not leave a Will) confirms your authority as an Executor or Administrator to be able to administer the Estate in accordance with the Will or intestacy rules. If there is a property, then a Grant will be required for the property to be sold. If there are various bank accounts, then it will be up to the bank and income providers to decide whether they will release money to you without a Grant. It often depends on the value of the accounts as to whether the bank will release the money to you without a Grant. It is therefore particularly helpful if you can bring along to the meeting the following documentation:-

  • Details of assets / liabilities – bank statements, list of any shares, premium bonds, pensions, life assurance policies and any debts. We will need this information to be able to put together the application to Probate
  • The Will – this will need to be submitted to the Probate Registry as part of the application
  • Death Certificate – we need to establish that the deceased has died as the contents of a Will is confidential
  • Funeral Invoice – please note that you can take this invoice directly to the bank and they should be able to pay the amount due directly to the funeral director from the deceased’s account. This is the only invoice that should be paid as when someone dies all of the bank accounts are frozen pending Probate

Instructing Oliver & Co Solicitors

There are two ways that we can assist you. We can act for you in part of the process or deal with the full administration of the Estate for you which would include collecting in all the assets, dealing with any debts, preparing Estate Accounts and distributing the money to the people named in the Will, the beneficiaries or making distributions based on the intestacy rules if there is no Will.

Applying for the Grant

If it is necessary to apply for a Grant then we will need to report the value of the Estate, whether or not inheritance tax is payable to HMRC. This is why it is important that we have details of all of the assets and debts of the deceased. The court will only issue the Grant once it has received details of the value of the Estate and any inheritance tax that is due. You will also need to sign a Legal Statement to confirm that you are entitled to administer the Estate and will do so properly.

Receiving the Grant

It is at this point, once the Grant has been received that we can cash in the remaining assets and look to place any property on the market for sale. We do not advise clients to place a property on the market before we have received the Grant as the sale of the property will be unable to proceed without this.

After the assets have been collected in and any debts have been paid, we will prepare Estate Accounts detailing the monies collected into the Estate and the monies paid out of the Estate during the administration. We will also include the amounts that each beneficiary is due to receive from the Estate. We then take your instructions as to when you would like the monies to be distributed.

Summary

In summary the key stages of the Probate process are as follows:-

  • Finding the Will
  • Having an initial meeting with a Solicitor
  • Applying for the Grant
  • Collecting in the assets and paying any debts
  • Preparing Estate accounts and distributing the money

If you would like to discuss Probate or the administration of an Estate then please call our experienced team on 01244 312306 who would be happy to assist.

Call and speak to a lawyer on 01244 312306