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What Exactly Is ‘Probate’?

2 July 2018

What Exactly Is ‘Probate’?

Probate is the process of dealing with the affairs of someone who has died and administering their estate. It can be a long task, and is especially difficult if you have to do it when coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. If you also have to juggle family life, a job and other responsibilities while administering an estate, it can become overwhelming.

An executor needs to be able to show banks, pension companies and official bodies that they are legally entitled to deal with the estate. They do this by obtaining a ‘grant of probate’, which is a formal legal document. It allows an executor to administer the estate and ultimately distribute it to the beneficiaries.

Where the estate is very small, no grant of probate will be required. This might happen if any property and bank accounts are owned jointly – in which case they would become solely owned by the surviving co-owner.

Probate and the administration of an estate involves working out what is included in the estate, valuing the estate, paying any tax due on the estate and paying any debts owed. Then the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries under the will.

Many people act as the executor of a relative or friend without involving a lawyer. It requires someone who is good with administrative tasks, and more importantly has got the time required. However, it is more common to instruct a lawyer to act, particularly where the executor is grieving and cannot face completing the probate process as well, is worried that they won’t have the time required, or simply do not want the responsibility.


For more information about probate and estate administration, click here.

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