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Probate and Deceased estates

This article appeared in the Mercury newspaper on 9th February 2011.

Solicitor Katy Burgin of Norrie Waite & Slater Solicitors answers questions on dealing with a deceased personís estate.

My father has died and I have to deal with his estate. I donít know where to start.

What is Probate?

Probate is the term commonly used to mean applying for the right to deal with a deceased personís estate. Someone will probateneed to apply for Ďgrant of representationí to enable them to deal with the personís affairs.
The legalities vary depending on whether or not the deceased left a Will.

If the deceased left a Will.

Executors will be named in the Will and they will be responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased. The executors have to apply to the probate registry for Ďgrant of probateí which is a legal document confirming that the executors have the legal right to deal with the deceasedís affairs. This document is required to deal with the personís property, finances and possessions.

If the deceased did not leave a Will.

If someone dies intestate a relative will need to apply to the probate registry for Ďgrant of letters of administrationí which gives them the legal authority to deal with the personís estate. Which relative is entitled to apply is set down by law.

Is Probate (or grant of representation) always required?

In certain circumstances it is not necessary to apply for grant of representation. You should always seek legal advice to ascertain if this applies to you and to avoid any legal problems as a result of mistakenly not applying for grant.

As a general rule a grant is not required when everything the deceased owned was held in joint names with their spouse and the spouse is the sole beneficiary.

It is also not usually necessary to apply for grant when the deceased has an estate of low value, for example a bank account containing less than £5000. If the deceased held shares or substantial savings or a property then grant is usually required.

What is involved in dealing with a larger estate?

Dealing with the administration of an estate can be time consuming, depending on the size and complexity of the personís affairs.

The deceasedís assets and liabilities need to be ascertained, their debts settled and their position calculated for income tax and inheritance tax. Assets such as savings, investments, shares, property and insurance policies all need to be taken into account to enable the estate to be dealt with properly and the assets distributed to beneficiaries.

When a loved one dies, dealing with the paperwork involved can be daunting and quite complex. A solicitor can deal with some or all of this for you if you wish. Our experienced team can remove this burden from you during this difficult time and ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Contact us to speak to one of our solicitors who will be happy to assess your situation and provide you with an estimate for the work to be carried out.

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