When dealing with the affairs of a deceased person

Probate gives you the legal right to deal with property, money and assets after a person’s death.

There are two ways to obtain this legal right in England and Wales:

  • Get probate – if the person left a will.
  • Get the right to administer property – if the person did not leave a will.

Both of these documents are often referred to as a power of attorney. In both cases, the application procedure is the same.

If the person left a will

Most people also name an executor when writing a will. An executor manages a person’s property after the latter’s death.

If you have become an executor, you will need to find out if you need to apply for probate.

Probate is an official document issued byHM Courts & Tribunal Service. It gives you the legal right to manage the deceased person’s estate.

If you have become the executor of the will, but are unwilling or unable to do so, then you can:

  • Appoint another person to apply for inheritance through a lawyer.
  • Refuse this assignment if you have not yet started managing the inherited property.

If you cannot find the will

It may happen that you will not be able to find the surviving will or its original, which you will need when applying for a probate.

If you have the details of this person’s lawyer, you can contact them and ask if they may have the will.

If the person did not leave a will

If the person did not leave a will, you can apply to become the administrator of their estate. This would give you the legal right to manage the person’s assets after their death

Generally, you can apply for administrator rights if with this person:

  • You were close relatives.
  • You were married.
  • You were in a civil partnership.

To apply for the rights of administrator of the estate, follow the same steps as for applying for probate.

If all goes well, you will be given a power of attorney to administer the deceased person’s estate.

When to apply for probate

You may not need to apply for probate if the deceased:

  • Only had savings or premium bonds – some banks and credit unions will transfer money without probate or administrator’s rights approval.
  • You were co-owners of the inherited land, property, shares or money.

You may need to apply for permission to administer the estate of a deceased person if they have left:

  • More than £5,000.
  • Shares and bonds.
  • House or land.
  • Certain insurance policies.

However, in practice some financial organizations may require proof of inheritance before giving you access even to less than £5,000.

Use the services of professionals

Applying for a probate document can be a time-consuming and frustrating process.

Professionals can help you navigate the probate process step by step. For example, they can:

  • Ascertain whether you need to apply for inheritance confirmation.
  • Assess the inherited property.
  • Submit inheritance tax forms to HMRC.
  • Apply for your right of representation.
  • Inventory the inherited property.
  • To ensure that the property is distributed in an orderly manner.

Probate fees

If the value of the estate is less than £5,000, this fee does not apply.

If the value of the estate is over £5,000, the probate fee is:

  • £215 if you apply yourself.
  • £155 if applying through a solicitor.

After you’ve applied

Granting of probate

Normally, probate is granted within eight weeks of application, but recently the HM Courts & Tribunal Service is taking longer to issue the necessary documents. You must make any claims to the inheritance no later than six months after the date of confirmation of the inheritance.

Inherited estate

The management process of inherited estate can take up to a year. The estate cannot be processed until all possible claims have been received.

Suspension of the application for probate

You can suspend the application for probate if there is a dispute about:

  • Whether a will exists.
  • Who can apply for probate.

To stop the application for probate, you must challenge it by entering a caveat before it is granted. This will prevent anyone from being granted probate until a potential dispute is resolved.

If you need help or have other questions regarding inheritance, please contact our team in the contacts section

To apply for the service, please fill out the service application form.

Information provided in this article is subject to change, so please consult a lawyer or other specialist in a specific case.

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