Probate is the legal process of proving a last will and testament, which means verifying that the will is legal and the deceased person’s intentions are carried out. Probate also occurs when there is no will and a probate court must decide how to distribute the assets of the deceased’s estate to their loved ones.
Probate is the legal process through which property is transferred after a property owner’s death. Generally speaking, probate calls for the gathering of all assets, paying off debts and distributing any remaining assets in accordance with an estate plan and the law.
If the deceased has a will, the executor or administrator will apply for a Grant of Probate. The grant is a legal document which confirms that the executor has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets (property, money and belongings). This is called ‘administering the estate’.
The two main reasons to avoid probate are the time and money it can take to complete. The court already takes a portion of the value of the estate to cover probate fees, but if a probate lawyer also gets involved, you are looking at even more expenses, which only further cut into the heirs’ inheritance.
Once probate is complete, this means that you or the solicitor have the legal right to administer the deceased’s estate (property, money and possessions). Once this is done, the personal representative of the estate can now gather the deceased’s assets ready to be cashed, transferred or sold.
Does everyone need to use probate? No. Many estates don’t need to go through this process. If there’s only jointly-owned property and money which passes to a spouse or civil partner when someone dies, probate will not normally be needed.
Probate will not be granted until the Inheritance Tax on the estate has been paid.
Here are six smart ways to handle probate:
- Use our What I Own and Where To Find It Checklist (available on request) before you die
- Put your life insurance in trust before you die. The claim proceeds will be paid to your loved ones bypassing probate
- If you have a simple estate use a low-cost probate service or ask your executors to carry out probate for you
- Use a probate loan to pay the Inheritance Tax (ask us to recommend a specialist lender)
- If you want your property to be sold quickly use a guaranteed buyer service (ask us for an introduction)
- If you have paper share certificates convert them into digital certificates either before (preferably) or after your death. The shares can then be sold much more cheaply and faster than in the paper form
Use these six smart ways to handle probate with your executors and you will find that your estate will pass to your beneficiaries much quicker and more cheaply than simply leaving it to chance. This will make it much easier and less painful for your executors and beneficiaries to handle probate. You know it makes sense*.
*The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate, Wills, Trusts or tax advice. The contents of this blog are for information purposes only and do not constitute individual advice.