IHTPropertyWill WritingWhat is ‘Probate’ and is it Required?

29th March 2022
Probate is the legal term given to the administrative process that is followed after someone has died. It ends with the ‘Probate Registry’ issuing a ‘Grant of Probate’ OR, in the absence of a Will, a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration.’

The ‘Grant of Probate’ will usually be issued in around 4 and 8 weeks and depending on how complicated the deceased’s estate is, the probate process can take between 6 and 12+ months- although this is just a rough guideline. In some instances, the time frame can be shorter or indeed much longer.

In certain situations, probate isn’t required. For example, if the deceased held assets jointly with a spouse. In such circumstances, full ownership of the assets would automatically transfer to them. Another factor is the value of the estate. It might be that the deceased’s estate is too small for probate to be a consideration; this is often the case with values below £5000.

The probate process can be summed up in 5 key stages:

  1. Identifying, valuing and securing assets.
  2. Estate is valued and it is also determined as whether any Inheritance Tax (IHT) is due.
  3. A Grant of probate is applied for.
  4. Tax and any other outstanding debts are cleared.
  5. Assets are distributed.

Where there is a Will in place, Will executers, people the deceased appointed to carry out the instructions of their Will, would be well advised to seek professional help and guidance with the Probate process. They need to understand that as appointed representatives they are legally and financially responsible for administering the estate; as such, they will be held liable for any mistakes in what can be a far more complicated than anticipated process.

The number of executors taken to court, due to claims made against them, for a breach of duty has risen sharply in recent years. Often mistakes are compounded by the executor’s efforts to put them right.

For further information on Estate planning, putting a Will in place and Probate, get in touch.

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What is ‘Probate’ and is it Required?

What is ‘Probate’ and is it Required?