Whether a person dies with or without a Will, the deceased’s estate must go through probate. This refers to the process where the deceased’s assets are valued, debts are settlement and the remainder is distributed to family members or interested parties. With testacy, the nominated executor will apply to court for a Grant of Probate. If there is not Will, a next of kin will have to apply to court for Letters of Administration.
If you were appointed the executor of an estate in the deceased's Will or another estate planning document, our Probate Solicitors can assist you in administering the estate efficiently and accurately, according to your loved one's wishes. We will manage the distribution of assets to beneficiaries, the selling of assets and any other matters outlined in the Will. It is important to consult an expert Probate Solicitor to avoid unnecessary expenses, delays and disputes amongst family members.
Evaluation of assets and tax settlement
Before seeking probate, the executor will create an inventory of the deceased’s assets and identify debts and liabilities that have to be settled. Before proceeding to probate and distribution, any tax due on the estate, such as inheritance tax, must be paid to HMRC.
In order to commence probate, the executor must obtain a Grant of Probate from a court to the effect the Will is recognised as legally valid. Once granted, the executor can begin the process of distribution.
Probate will always be required where:
- real property, such as a house, is concerned (however, if there is no real property and the entire estate passes to a surviving spouse, no Grant of Probate is required); and
- cash value of less than £5,000 is concerned.
The effect of granting probate is to provide legal authority to access the deceased’s bank accounts. This is important where the costs of a funeral need to be met.
Appointment of alternative executor
If an executor feels they cannot fulfil their task, they may appoint another individual to take their place.
Obtaining probate in intestacy
If an individual dies without a Will, or the Will is found to be invalid, or no executors are named, their estate will fall into intestacy. In these circumstances, a next of kin can apply to court for grant of Letters of Administration. The person to whom the court grants Letters of Administration is known as the administrator. Eligible relatives to serve as administrator follow a priority order:
- the married or civil partner of the deceased;
- a child of the deceased;
- grandchild of deceased;
- parent of the deceased;
- brother or sister of deceased;
- nephew or niece of deceased; and
- any other relative.
To be finally approved for probate, the probate registry requires an interview to assess the fitness of the nominated executor.
If a mortgage on real property is inherited, either the mortgagor will require repayment out of the proceeds of the estate or the individual inheriting will have the mortgage transferred to their name.
If the value of the state is lower than £5,000, no fee is required for applying for Grant of Probate. Above this amount, the fee is £215. Lower income individuals can have their fee reduced or waived.
If you want to know more about the probate process, please read some of our related content here:
- Probate without a Will: Who inherits and who can administer the estate?
- What happens after you've applied for probate?
- Probate and Executors: 3 things you should know
- Do Executors get paid?
Contact our Wills and Probate Solicitors London
We are prepared to handle every type of estate administration case, from the smallest to the largest of estates. The Wills and Probate Lawyers at Lewis Nedas offer a tailored, focused review of your family circumstances in order to determine how best to navigate individual relationships and appoint effective administration of your estate.