What is probate?

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What is probate?

What is probate?

When you are researching making a will you may well come across the term ‘probate’ but what actually is probate and how does it affect making a will?

Probate is the term that describes the legal right to administer the deceased person’s estate.

In very general terms a small estate won’t require probate but it has to be remembered that a small estate will only be a value of under £5000 and will be very simple in structure.

In most cases when people pass on with a will in place then the executor named in the will should apply for a document called a “grant of probate”. [link 1].

This document is used as a method of proving to organisations such as banks and building societies that the will is the final version and that they can work legally with the executor to sort out the estate.

The problem is that there are no clear rules around when a grant of probate is needed and every organisation will have its own rules so the executor will need to check with each individual company as to their rules.

This means that in most cases it is better to get a grant of probate at the start to avoid issues later.

How do you get a grant of probate?

When someone passes on the first thing to do will be to register the death. This needs to be done within 5 days in England and Wales and 8 days in Scotland.

The executor will then need to access the will and work out the value of the estate.

This will entail working out what assets are included and where they may be, who owns them (are they wholly owned by the deceased or jointly owned) and also what debts there may such as utilities, bank loans and tax.

The valuation can’t be exact at this point, because for example you won’t know what a house may actually be sold for, but it does need to be pretty close so it’s best to get professional valuations to avoid challenge later.

The grant of probate can then be applied for online here. [link 2] and you’ll need to make an official statement of truth.

There will be some costs involved in applying for a grant of probate and you can check out our handy fee calculator app here. [link 3]

At this point an inheritance tax return will need to be completed and any tax due should be paid. If there is cash in the estate then the bank will have a direct payment scheme that will allow this.

Once the taxes have been paid then HMRC will issue a receipt that can then be passed on to allow probate to be granted.

How making a will helps with probate

Making a will is a huge comfort to those left behind because it appoints someone to look after the process and sets out assets and what should happen to them.

But if someone dies without making a will then the relatives left behind will need to apply for Letters of Administration and it has to be in a strict order starting with the bereaved spouse or civil partner.

It’s understandable that at a difficult time, dealing with the probate process is hard when the issue could easily have been solved simply by making a will online.

Smart Will not only offers a simple, effective and user-friendly will making service but we can also act as executors and arrange for fixed-fee probate administration.

Download The Smart Will App today and protect your family against uncertainty with our online Will service.

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