Understanding the Grant of Probate

Very often, after a loved one passes, you have to get used to a number of unfamiliar legal terms very quickly. One of the most important of these is probate.

Probate is a legal process that has to be undertaken in many cases after the passing of an individual. Effectively, probate is the application to gain the right to take care of the affairs of a deceased party. Normally, this is in relation to carrying out the wishes in their will, or in the event of no valid will, being able to move forward with the administration of the estate.

What Is Involved in Probate?

Probate is normally sought by the executor of a will, as stated within the deceased party’s will. It’s their responsibility to gain a grant of probate, which entitles them to handle the estate of the deceased. Once probate has been granted, the executor will have the legal authority to divide and share out the estate.

This process often involves complicated legal matters, which is why so many people choose to get the help of top solicitors in London when applying for a grant of probate. In order to gain a probate grant, and complete the probate process, there are a number of key stages:

Estate Valuation – All the assets of the deceased party will be listed and calculated, along with any debts or other liabilities they might have had. This provides the basis for the estate valuation. Entitlement of the estate will be verified, and the beneficiaries will provide relevant documentation.
Inheritance Tax – Before probate can be completed, returns for inheritance tax must be completed, the inheritiance tax paid where required, and the Grant of Probate must be obtained to enable estate administration.
Financial Settlement – With the Grant of Probate, the executor of the will can begin to liquidate assets, pay any liabilities, and arrange for the payment of any expenses, including capital gains tax, income tax, and additional inheritance tax.
Documentation – Documents must be created to demonstrate the remaining value of the estate once expenses have been paid. The remaining value will be calculated, as per the will stipulations, to see how much inheritance the beneficiaries will receive.
Asset Transferal – The last stage of the process is to distribute assets to all beneficiaries of the will, along with any funds left in the estate.

Is Probate Always Needed in the UK?

While most estates need a grant of probate in the UK, there are some exceptions where the will can be carried out without it. You normally won’t need to apply for probate, if:

  • The full value of the deceased’s estate is not worth more than £10,000
  • Everything in the estate was under joint ownership, in which case, the estate automatically changes ownership
    If the deceased’s estate compromised of property, land, stocks, insurance policies, shares, or sums over £10,000, then a grant will be needed in almost all situations.

Contesting a Will During Probate

Fulfilling the requirements in a will, or applying for probate, is not always straightforward. In 2015, 116 cases ended up in the High Court over problems with the Inheritiance Act, along with many more cases that appeared in County Court. These figures have shown to rise considerably in recent years, with more and more people contesting wills.

It’s possible to contest a will before and after probate has been granted. However, contesting a will before probate is a much more practical option, as after probate has been granted, the executor has legal authority over the estate. There are a number of grounds that a will can be contested on:

  • The will was created under coercion
  • There was forgery or fraud involved
  • Unsuitable level of approval or knowledge
  • Unsuitable capacity for testamentary
  • Under the Wills Act of 1837
    If you’re considering contesting a will, then it’s important to start the process as quickly as you’re able, and before probate has begun when possible.

Getting Help with Probate

If you’ve never had to experience the probate process before, then it can be incredibly helpful to enlist the help of a probate solicitor, who can provide guidance on the legal responsibilities, and even apply for a grant of probate for you.

If a loved one has passed away and you need help with probate, or any assistance with understanding the involvements of probate, please don’t delay in calling the expert London lawyers at Gulbenkian Andonian today.