What is probate ?
Understanding exactly what probate is can be very confusing after someone has died. It is important to understand exactly what probate is, whether you need probate and whether you need to get help.
Probate is simply the legal term that is given to the process that is followed after someone has died. It is typically undertaken by the executor named in a will or the administrator (typically a relative) when there is no will.
The probate process involves an application being made to the probate court for the issue of a legal document known as a grant of probate (if there is a will) or a grant of letters of administration (when there is no will). This document is needed to deal with the assets of a deceased person such as collect monies from a bank account, sell shares, or collect monies under a life insurance policy.
Typically in our experience you will need probate to:
- Close a bank account having a balance over £15,000
- Collect or transfer shares
- Sell a property
- To make a claim under a life policy or a pension death benefit
- Make a claim by the estate eg. PPI, or care home fees
Applying for Probate : when to get some help
To obtain probate requires an application being made to the probate court, which is called the Probate Registry. The procedure varies depending upon whether you seek help from a solicitor like ourselves or apply in person. Often we get asked as to the benefits and advantages of using a solicitor, and whether it is worth seeking help.
Unlike most solicitors, we charge a simple fixed fee which is payable at the end of the case. In many cases we can obtain probate quicker than a personal application. For example, if you need probate urgently for the sale of a property we can obtain probate in a matter of weeks. We also take care of the inheritance tax return which most people find difficult to complete.
Other times you should seek help with probate are:
- When the original will is lost
- You need probate quickly
- Inheritance tax is payable e.g. an estate over £325,000
- There are issues or problems with the will
- There is no will and the beneficiaries are children
- There are problems with the executor or missing beneficiaries
- The deceased left foreign assets
- Beneficiaries cannot be traced
If you are unsure about the probate and whether you need probate, call our probate advice helpline on 0845 568 4000.
To find out whether you need probate please click here.