What is Probate?

Strictly speaking, Probate is proving the Will and showing that it is valid but many use the term to refer to the legal process following someone’s death.

This is when someone with legal authority (the Executors, if there is a Will, or Administrators, if there is no Will) obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, and can then collect in and distribute the Estate of the deceased.

Who applies for Probate?

Where there is a Will, the Executors that are named in the Will, can apply for the Grant of Probate.

Where there is no Will, or the Will is invalid, then the entitlement to apply for Letters of Administration will be in line with the Rules of Intestacy. The first person that is entitled to apply being the surviving spouse or civil partner of the deceased and next, the child, or children, of the deceased.

Do I need to carry out Probate?

Probate is usually required where an Estate (all the property, cash, savings, ISAs, investments and any other valuables) of the deceased have a combined total of £5,000 or more.

How long does the Probate process take?

There is no set time period as this will vary depending on the size and complexity of the Estate as well as the number of assets, type of assets and where the assets are located.

In most cases, Probate can be finalised within six months, however it is not unusual for probate to take anywhere between 9-12 months is more complex Estates or those of higher value.

Do I have to use a professional or can I apply for Probate myself?

There is no obligation on you to use a professional and in fact, depending on the size and complexity of the Estate there may be no need for you to use a professional as it will be more cost-effective to carry out the process yourself.

However, a professional can assist in more complex or valuable Estates and will have extensive experience and knowledge with the process, the requirements and the lengthy forms that are required. This can often speed up the process and means that nothing gets missed or forgotten.

How do I know if Inheritance Tax is due?

Inheritance Tax is payable at 40% upon death, where an estate exceeds the Nil Rate Band.

The Nil Rate Band is a personal allowance, that each individual is able to gift, upon death, without attracting any Inheritance Tax (for 2018/19 this is £325,000 per person).

The Residential Nil Rate Band may also be applicable if the deceased is passing their home to a direct descendant. 

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