What is Probate?
When a person has passed away, they leave behind an estate, such as debts and assets. Deciding what happens next can be complicated in a potentially already upsetting time. The process of dealing with a person’s estate, such as property, money and their possessions is referred to as probate.
Though the whole process is referred to as Probate, the technical meaning and reasoning of having to apply for probate is essentially gaining permission to carry out the wishes of the deceased’s last Will and testament.
If a person dies without a valid Will, this is referred to as dying intestate and the probate process will be slightly different.
Do I Need Probate?
As a rule of thumb, a person normally requires probate for their estate if it is valued over £10,000; although if these were jointly owned, probate would not be required. Likewise, in England and Wales, the threshold for probate ranges between £5,000 and £50,000. This is due to establishments such as banks having their own rules to follow when releasing money from a deceased’s account.
If you are unsure as to whether Probate is required or have any questions please contact us.
Do I Need a Probate Specialist?
Deciding on using probate specialists can be difficult. There are multiple factors to consider, such as the complexity of the estate and the cost of hiring a professional.
Using family and friends as executors saves considerable sums of money.
Probate specialists are experts in processing probate and they do not necessarily have to be solicitors, some are accountants. All specialists charge fees for their services. This can be expensive. It is best to understand when you require a probate specialist.
Below is our checklist of examples where hiring a probate specialist may come in useful:
- the deceased lived outside of the UK
- if property outside of the UK is included in the estate
- no will was written or there are doubts concerning the will
- the value of the estate is above the Inheritance Tax threshold (£325,000)
- the deceased has living dependents neglected from the will but they may wish to make a claim
- the estate is bankrupt
- there are complicated assets of the estate such as those held in a trust
What is a Will?
When someone passes away, they can choose to leave behind a will. This is a legal testamentary document and is recognised in a court of law. Usually, a will is for giving clear instructions on how the estate should be distributed as well as naming an executor. In short, this is how you express your wishes about how you would like your property and possessions passed on after you have passed away.
As well as naming an executor, it also contains other important pieces of information such as:
- Any funeral wishes
- Appointing guardians for your children (if they are not 18 years of age)
- Instructions on giving gifts from your estate
- Any creations of trusts of property or assets
- Execution of provisions (where you and your witnesses sign the will).
An executor is the person named by the will and they are solely responsible for carrying out the instructions of the will throughout the probate process.
What is Intestate?
When an estate has to be processed in accordance with the law, due to no valid will being found, there are certain rules which the process has to follow. These are called the rules of intestacy. When this happens, it is known as dying intestate.
As this can be seen in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Power Act, these rules determine how to distribute the estate based on family connections. These rules place your beneficiaries in order of priority, so if you want to be more specific about how your estate is handled, it is best to leave behind a valid will. However, you can still apply to be an administrator in the event of close family or friends passing away.
If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you need a will, please contact our team on 01722 410009.