What Is the Probate Process and How Does It Work?
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Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never an easy process, and on top of managing your grief, you may be required to organise and distribute their assets; this process is known as probate.
The process often involves various complicated legal, tax, and financial work and can be initiated with or without a will. Probates can take a long time to complete, as the more complicated the estate is, the longer it will take to settle.
Probate is the process of administering an estate when someone has passed away, including organising money, assets, and possessions. These are then distributed as inheritance once all debts and taxes are paid.
If the deceased has left a will, the document will name the administrator of the estate. This person is known as the executor of the will. Only the executor named in the deceased’s will can apply for probate to administer their estate.
A grant of probate is a legal document that gives someone authority to manage the deceased’s property. This document is a grant of probate if the person left a will. However, if they didn’t, a grant of letters of administration is used instead.
Although these documents have different names, they work in similar ways, presenting a named person with the legal authority to deal with the person’s assets. When the probate is granted, the next of kin or the executor can begin to take care of the deceased person’s assets.
The probate process begins with the identification of all the assets left by the deceased along with their liabilities to determine the value of their estate. It is also useful at the beginning of the process to determine who is entitled to inheritance to avoid complications in the future.
All Inheritance Tax should be paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) where applicable. Executors should then apply to the Probate Registry for the grant of representation to confirm who has the legal authority to administer the estate.
After the grant of representation has been issued, the next step is to liquidate the deceased’s assets, settle any liabilities and pay the final estate administration expenses. These accounts should also be sent to HMRC.
At this stage, the executor of the will should prepare the estate accounts for all payments in and out of the estate, presenting the balance left for distribution.
Providing there are no challenges to the estate or other complicating factors that will prevent distribution, the final phase will include transferring assets to the beneficiaries.
Phase five of the probate process will be completed in line with the terms of the will or rules of intestacy.
At Eatons, we know that losing a loved one is difficult, which is why our team of probate solicitors will guide you through the process. From assisting you with organising assets to managing the legal aspects of the process, our expert team will be with you every step of the way.