What is Probate?

Probate is the process of collecting a deceased’s belongings and property together, paying any outstanding debts and distributing the remaining property and funds to those people who are entitled to their possessions, either under a valid will or under the laws of intestacy (add link to jargon buster).

The application for Probate is made be the executors appointed in the dead person’s will. If no will has been left, this will be done typically (but not necessarily) by the beneficiaries of the person’s estate, who are known as administrators. These people are referred collectively as Personal Representatives. They have two primary responsibilities:

1) Grant of Representation

In order to deal with the deceased’s property or belongings, the Personal Representatives will need to obtain a Grant of Representation. Obtaining a Grant of Representation is necessary where the value of the estate is £5,000 or more.

The rules governing who may apply for a Grant or who may be given a Grant are complicated. For more information on how to apply, please click here.

2)Acting as an Executor or Administrator

The Personal Representatives will then administer the estate of the deceased in accordance with their wishes, which are set out in a valid will or in accordance with the laws on intestacy where there is no will or the will is found to be invalid.

The Personal Representatives will need to do the following:

1)      Check and/or enquire as to whether the deceased wrote a valid will.

2)      Consider the terms of the will regarding and specific requests for a burial or cremation

3)      Gather information relating to the dead person’s assets and outstanding debts or liabilities. The deceased’s assets might include property, stocks and shares or savings in a  bank/building society. A deceased ‘s liabilities might include a mortgage on any properties,  or outstanding credit card bills or debts. The Personal Representatives will need to make enquiries with the deceased’s bank, accountants or financial advisors to find out about bank accounts, building society accounts and shares held.

4)      From the will, establish the identities of the different beneficiaries and the extent of their entitlement.

5)      If no will is available, identify the surviving family members so that the laws of intestacy can be applied.

At The Law Department, we will advise on how the Personal Representatives should perform the above tasks and also how and when to make the distributions of property and administer their responsibilities dutifully and according to the law.

Natalie Gefen
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