Probate refers to the legal right to administer the affairs of a deceased person. Their savings, property, indeed, all the things they owned, otherwise known as their estate, have to be dealt with by executors with the authority to do so. The term refers to the process of gathering their assets, identifying debts and sharing out the estate accordingly. This will also involve assessing how complex or extensive their financial situation is as this will determine whether you require a grant of representation to act as the legal executor. Executors often have to deal with messy and often secretive finances which require inheritance tax forms to be completed accurately and fairly so identifying who will be responsible or whether an executor is even necessary is vital.
Estates with assets of less than £5,000 do not require grants of representation neither do estates held jointly by a married couple/civil partnership. In this case the assets are passed on to this surviving spouse. Also probate is approached differently depending on whether or not the deceased has left a will. If the deceased person has a will and has appointed executors the next step is to apply for a grant of probate which gives the executor the legal power to act in this capacity. This document is important because they may be called upon to handle the deceased’s financial affairs, access bank accounts and see sensitive or private items. Bear in mind banks and financial institutions will always ask the executor to produce this document. It can be obtained from a court’s probate registry.
In circumstances where there is no will a close relative can apply to the probate registry for a grant of letters of administration which similarly gives them legal authority. Once this process is successful they are known as the administrator. If one of the heirs is a minor then the law states there should be more than one administrator.