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What is Probate?

What is Probate and Estate Administration?

If you have been appointed as an executor in a Will or you are the next of kin of someone who has passed away, you may have been told you need “Probate” or a “Grant”.

Probate is the term generally used for dealing with the affairs of someone who has died, whether there is a Will or not.

Probate estate administration is all of the legal, tax and administrative steps that must be taken to ensure that the deceased’s estate is administered properly, including applying to the Probate Court for a Grant.

The individuals appointed as executors in a Will, or acting on behalf of the deceased if there is no Will, are often referred to as “personal representatives”.

The personal representatives must be careful to ensure that they carry out every stage of the estate administration diligently, so that no mistakes are made as they may be held liable for any of those mistakes.

Helping you with the formalities of Estate Administration

At NewLaw we know that this is a difficult time for those left behind and the crucial step of probate and the administration of an estate can be legally challenging and time consuming. The lawyers in our team will work with personal representatives from the outset to ease the burden and make the estate administration process as straightforward as possible, regardless of the size of the probate and estate.

Who can apply for Probate?

When someone dies leaving a Will, the executors appointed in the Will are responsible for administering the estate.

If someone dies without leaving a Will, they are “intestate” and the Rules of Intestacy determine which surviving relative can be the administrator. Administering an intestate estate can be a little more complicated. If you are unsure how these rules apply, please contact us and we will be happy to advise you in more detail.

Why is Probate needed?

Probate will usually be requested by the financial institutions, such as banks, investment companies or insurers, who hold the deceased’s assets. It will always be required if the deceased had a property that needs to be sold or transferred to a beneficiary. Sometimes it is unclear if a Grant is required and a personal representative should always seek legal advice if they are unsure.

A Grant of Representation is obtained from the Probate Court as proof, that the personal representatives have been correctly identified as the persons legally entitled to deal with the deceased’s estate and receive the deceased’s assets.

Probate is obtained by:

  • The executor applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate, or;
  • If there is no Will, the administrator applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Being named on a Grant carries significant legal responsibility, as those named on the Grant of Representation are ultimately liable for the proper administration of the estate of the deceased.

Before a personal representative can apply for the Grant, they must find out exactly what is in the estate and this will involve valuing all the assets and ascertaining the extent of the deceased’s liabilities. This can be a time consuming process, requiring lots of letter writing, completing forms, telephone calls and attending appointments. The estate administration can take a year or more to complete.

Personal Representatives duties

A personal representative has significant duties and responsibilities, including to:

  • Precisely value the estate assets and collect them when the Grant has been obtained;
  • Account for all gifts or transfer of assets made by the deceased in the seven years before their death;
  • Ensure all tax matters are dealt with, including Inheritance Tax, Income and Capital Gains Tax returns;
  • Administer the estate and keep it safe during the estate administration;
  • Pay for funeral expenses and other debts of the estate;
  • Prepare estate accounts and distribute the estate strictly in accordance with the terms of the Will or the Rules of Intestacy.

Administering an estate can be a challenging and a formidable task at a difficult time, particularly for someone who has never done it before, or if the estate is complicated. Such complications could include trusts in the Will, where there are overseas assets, where the beneficiaries are unknown or where there is a dispute over the estate.

Our team of lawyers will guide you through the whole process quickly, cost effectively and sympathetically. Whether it is general advice you need, practical help with the next steps after a death, help with completing forms to obtain the Grant, or you would like us to take on whole responsibility for administering the estate, we are able to help you throughout this process.

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