Do I need Probate if there’s a Will?
When a loved one passes away, it’s easy to get confused by all the administrative duties that must be carried out. Not only are you grieving, but you also have to start dealing with an estate.
You’d be forgiven, then, for assuming that since you’re the executor of a Will, you won’t need to obtain Probate to start dividing up assets according to the deceased’s wishes. This, however, is a common misconception. Whether Probate is required depends on the size of the estate and whether there are any joint assets – not the presence of a Will.
What is Probate?
The term ‘Probate’ refers to legal documents that are issued by a specialist court, which confirm the authority of an executor or Personal Representative to deal with a deceased person’s estate. If there is a valid Will, the document is called a Grant of Probate. If there is no valid Will, or a Will cannot be found, the document issued is a Grant of Letters of Administration. Both are generally known as Probate.
When is Probate required?
Probate is usually required in England or Wales when the deceased owned property or assets of significant value in their sole name. If a property is held between two people as tenants in common, each co-owner has a distinct share in the property, meaning Probate is likely to be required here as well. Similarly, if a house has passed to a surviving spouse who then dies, Probate is necessary to sell it.
A bank or financial institution will ask for Probate (either a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration) when they require it to release funds.
Where Probate is necessary, the executor of the Will, or Personal Representative, will need to apply for it. The application can be complex and time consuming, which is why most people opt to get help from a Kent accountant for Probate services or other qualified professional.
When is Probate not necessary?
If property or assets are held in joint names, they will pass to the surviving co-owner under the right of survivorship. Probate may not be necessary if the estate is under a certain size – although this size is set by banks and financial institutions, so it may be anything between £5,000 and £50,000.
Who is responsible for getting Probate?
If the deceased has left a valid Will, one or more executors will be named within it. For those who haven’t left a Will, the rules of intestacy apply, and will determine who is responsible for getting Probate.
If you are named as an executor, but you do not wish to act as such, you can choose to give up all rights to act as an executor – provided you’ve done no work on the administration of the estate. Alternatively, you can have ‘power reserved’, which means other executors can act, but you can join the process later on.
Many people choose professionals, such as Kent tax advisors who have the authority to deal with Probate, to complete the process for them. Speak to a reputable firm today for help with administering an estate.