When a person dies, their estate must be finalised. The person who finalises their estate is known as their Executor, but the executor can only have the right to access the deceased’s estate once they apply for Probate.
What is Probate?
Probate, also known as Confirmation in Scotland, is the legal process of executing a Will and settling a deceased’s estate. Its purpose is to give the executor the legal right to handle the deceased’s estate and to make executive decisions on their behalf. They are also known as Personal Representatives.
What Does Probate Do?
Probate allows the personal representative to do any of the following:
- Finalise all bills and close necessary accounts
- Settle unpaid debts
- Sell or transfer property owned by the deceased
- Liquidate or gather assets in all their forms
- Calculate and pay the Inheritance Tax
- Pay the remaining income tax if applicable
- Distribute the estate as outlined by the Will or by the government
Who Can Apply for Probate?
Probate is often applied for by the person named as the Executor in the Will left behind by the deceased. If this Executor has died, there was no Executor named, or there was no Will, then who can apply for Probate is as follows:
- The spouse, separated or not
- Children of the deceased
- Other close family members
If you believe the person who has applied for probate is not fit for the role, you can contest it. You can also contest a Will if you have a valid reason to contest a Will, but this should be done with the advice and aid of specialised solicitors. If you contest a Will and take it to court without a reasonable chance of winning you will likely have wasted a lot of resources.
When is Probate Not Necessary?
Probate isn’t necessary when all of the deceased’s assets are in a joint account with their living spouse. A Probate is also not necessary if the estate left behind is nominal, or the deceased did not have any assets to speak of.
Applying for Probate
The person who has right to apply for Probate (those named the executor or a close living relative) can then apply online through the government website, or hire solicitors to do so on their behalf. If there is no Will, the process is similar, but instead of Probate, you will be applying for letters of administration.
When you apply you will need the following information to send in either online or through post:
- The original Will
- The original Death Certificate or Interim Death Certificate
- The Estimate of the Estate’s Value
You will also need to fill out a few forms. The forms you fill out will depend on where the deceased lived in the UK. For example, if they lived in England or Wales then you will need to fill out the PA1P application if they had a Will, and the PA1A application if they did not. In Scotland, these forms are known as C1 and C5.
Once you have applied you will then need to send the original documents to the local Probate Registry, and a fee of £215 if the estate’s estimated worth is greater than £5000. If it is under £5000, there is no fee. As always, legal matters that occur when applying for probate and executing a will are best done with the help of solicitors.