Probate: where do I start?

Probate refers to dealing with deceased persons personal affairs (the legal term is estate) or any instructions left in the will. Possibly the deceased may have left signed letters this is referred to as letters of wishes. An executor or executors (if there is more than one) is an elected person who is responsible for dealing with the deceased persons final instructions or any related difficulties.

The executor is not legally required by law, even if they are instructed to do so in the will. If there is no executor or no will left by the deceased person, then someone is chosen to become an administrator. The administrator carries out the tasks that an executor would otherwise do instead. However if a will is non-existent, the elected individual is usually someone who would benefit from the deceased’s estate or a family relative.

The principal registry must be contacted with a proof of death certificate in order to release the will. The executor will need to provide proof that they are the executor of the deceased before this can be released. A certificate of the deposit will need to be produced to the principal keeper in order to retrieve the will.

With regards to whether they have left a will, they may have stated who will carry out the probate procedure. In some cases executors will employ the services of a solicitor to carry out the tasks. Or sometimes they will refer legal documentation to a solicitor to check through.

To calculate the estate, it’s necessary to sort through the decease’s assets, which will include accounts, personal belongings, cars, property, polices and other accounts from financial institutions. Intestacy is the legal term if the estate of the deceased far out weighs the enforced debts. If there isn’t enough money from the deceased to cover the expenses left behind. Debts, mortgages, credit cards, loans will be taken into consideration in the overall cost of funeral expenses. Properties would have to be valued by an estate agent or a valuer to determine its worth.

Grant of representation will be requested by banks and other financial institutions before they are official allow the executor to distribute funds or assets the deceased person may have. This is sent in the post to the executor and produced at banks and other financial institutions. Then any outstanding debts owed must then be settled at which point the estate can be fairly divided. In some cases a Grant may not be needed if the deceased has an estate of less than 5,000 or given to a partner if it is jointly in their names.

Inheritance tax forms are essential to complete even if no tax is due they are still a legal requirement. After these forms have been filled out they are sent to the probate registry service, and HMRC will decide if any tax is due. The executor is invited to attend a probate office or solicitor’s office to swear an oath.

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