What is probate?

Probate means the  legal process whereby a court (‘the Probate Registry, a part of the High Court, acting by one of its District Probate Registries), approves the legitimacy of a Will and issues a document called a ‘Grant of Probate’  which gives the executors named in the Will the legal authority to deal with the deceased person’s estate. The Executors, then with or without the assistance of solicitors, realise the assets of the estate, pay off its debts, and then distribute the net estate according to the instructions left in the Will. This is the ‘estate administration’.

Assets of the deceased person that pass by what is called ‘survivorship’ which are assets such as real property (ie houses, land or interests in land) or bank accounts owned in a form of joint ownership called ‘beneficial joint tenancy’ with another person, do not pass under the Will so are not part of the estate governed by the Grant of Probate.

Assets are anything a person owns of financial  value, such as real and personal property, bank accounts and investments such as National Savings products and stocks and shares . Executors are also responsible for making payments of the debts and finalising the deceased’s tax position If you have been appointed as executor to administer an estate, make sure you fully understand the responsibilities of carrying out the process of  estate administration as it can be a very complex task. Smart-will can find multiple fixed fee quotes if you would rather an expert take on the role.