Probate in its most simple form is the legal process by which you; prove a Will is valid (if there is one), confirm who has authority to administer the estate, and the administration of the estate of someone who has died. The duties include gathering all estates of the deceased, settling debts, paying inheritance tax, and distributing the assets.
Applying for Probate.
Before applying for a Grant of Probate, you must check that it is necessary and that you are eligible to apply. The executor also needs to estimate the estate’s value to determine if there is Inheritance Tax to pay.
The timeline of when you can apply for Probate depends on whether this needs to be paid or not.
No two estates will ever be the same, which is why the financial organisations of the deceased, including their bank and mortgage company, need to be contacted to find out if you will need a Grant of Probate to access their assets. At this time, utility companies, insurance companies and other financial institutions associated with the deceased should also be informed to prevent the eventuality of unexpected bills or policies.
Read this article ‘What is a Grant of Probate?’ for more information about the Probate process and considerations you need to make.
Applying for Probate without a Solicitor.
Your solicitor will apply for Probate as part of the estate administration process. We would always recommend instructing a solicitor for this process. However, if you do not, you can make an application by post or, with suitable documentation (in England and Wales), you can apply online. The process, in this case, takes around 20 days.
When don’t I need a Grant of Probate?
If the person who died had jointly owned land, property, shares or money, they would not need a Grant of Probate (this will automatically pass to the surviving owner[s]).
A Grant of Probate is also not necessary if the deceased only had savings.
If you are unsure whether you need a Grant of Probate, as this can be difficult to recognise, do not hesitate to contact us today to speak to an expert Probate Lawyer.
What if there was no Will?
Letters of Administration can be applied for if there was no Will, an invalid Will was left, or no executor was named. In this case, it is best to seek the advice of a solicitor. When the estate is shared, it must be done so according to specific rules, known as the rules of intestacy. This means that the estate will be shared without considering the wishes expressed in a Will.
The distribution of the estate will depend on whether the deceased was married, in a civil partnership, had children or grandchildren. Jarmans Solicitors can explain the ins and outs of intestacy rules and how this may affect you.
Where someone dies without leaving a Will, if you are not married or in a civil partnership, you do not automatically have the right to inherit. There is a common misconception regarding “common law marriage” where many unmarried couples assume they are legally protected if they have been living together for a long time or have children together However, this does not exist. Unmarried and cohabiting partners who have been living together for more than two years do have the right to make a claim if they can prove dependency, but this procedure can be long and complex with no guarantee the claim would be successful.
How long do banks take to release money after Probate?
As previously mentioned, no two cases are the same. The time frame that highlights how long banks take to release money after Probate varies from bank to bank, person to person, case to case. However, generally, banks will release the funds after they have the Grant of Probate, alongside all the necessary documentation, and within two weeks.
Read our article ‘How long do banks take to release money after Probate?’ to learn more about this.
How do I contest a Will?
When advising our clients who want to contest a Will, we aim to remain empathetic and level-headed. It is advisable to seek advice as soon as possible and deal with a dispute before the administration of the estate begins. Once funds or other assets have been released to the beneficiaries, it is much more complex to deal with a dispute at that stage. There are certain timescales you should be aware of. Some grounds to contest a Will have a limit of 6 months from the grant of probate, but others like forgery or fraud have no limit.
Deciding to contest a Will can be a difficult decision, especially when there is grief involved, as well as family members or friends, which is why at first, we recommend mediation and negotiation.
To read more about the steps, we would take to prevent the case from going to court and more information about contesting a Will, read this article – ‘Contested Probate: Some of the steps to consider before contesting a Will’.
Checklist of Actions After Grant of Probate.
Ensuring the wants of the deceased have been met and ensuring all other legal procedures are in place can be overwhelming and difficult, especially when dealing with grief.
Here is a checklist that should be considered to ensure all eventualities have been catered for.
- Collect all assets from those holding the assets (banks, building societies, estate agents, national savings, pension providers) by sending them the Grant of Probate.
- Pay off all debts, including HMRC, mortgages, online accounts, utilities and more.
- Record how the estate is distributed among beneficiaries, known as estate accounts, to be signed by executors.
- Distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. This must be following the Will instructions. Without this, the intestacy law will dictate the asset distribution, as previously mentioned.
Probate Solicitors in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Contact us today for expert advice from our specialist Probate Lawyers based in Sittingbourne, Kent. We can answer your questions regarding your Grant of Probate, Will, or other personal law issues.