Times When Probate Is Required

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Times When Probate Is Required

Probate is something that many of us will have to experience at some point in our lives. It can be a difficult thing to go through and whilst you are still processing the loss of a loved one, it can make it even harder.

We bring you this article to explain to you when probate is required, as in some cases probate may not be needed - depending on the deceased estate.

Read on for more information and to better understand more about probate, the process of probate and exactly when probate is and is not required.


What Is Probate?

Probate is a word that describes the process of the legal and financial administration of someone's estate after they die. It usually involves property, money and other possessions which are known as assets.

Either a next of kin or an executor of the Will will have the job of distributing and transferring of the estate. In doing so, they might have to apply for probate.

All taxes and debts must be paid before the executor can distribute the estate as an inheritance. Probate proves that a Will is valid and confirms who has the authority to administer it for the deceased person.

The legal document which grants the administrator access to distribute the Will is known as the ‘Grant of Probate’ or ‘Letters of Administration’.


When Is Probate Required?

Times when probate is required include when the deceased owned property or any other significant asset in their sole name. Along with this, probate will normally be required under the following circumstances:

  • When disturbing property and assets among beneficiaries where it was solely owned by the person who died
  • When any part of the estate administration is disputed and there are legal proceedings
  • When the person owned stock and shares in their sole name
  • When their money is over the threshold of £5000

If the bank or other financial institution asks for a Grant of Probate, then it usually means that probate is likely to be needed.

When a valid Will has been left it is the named executor's job, it is their responsibility to apply for probate.

If there is no Will, then there are rules called the ‘rules of intestacy’ which determine whose responsibility it will be to apply for probate.


Reasons Why You May Not Need Probate

Probate may not be required for a number of reasons, some of the reasons include:

  • The value of the estate is low
  • The person did not own property, land, or shares
  • The property or assets were jointly owned - the assets in this case will be passed directly onto the other person who owns the assets, for example, when a husband and wife jointly own their home.
  • If the person was insolvent and had more debt and taxes to pay than they owned
  • When they have an insurance policy, in the form of a trust - a copy of the policy and death certificate must be produced by the trustee.

There are always probate specialist solicitors that can help you through the process of probate.


What Is Classed As a Small Estate?

There is no set answer to this question as there will always be other factors in cases to consider. But to give you an idea, if an estate is worth more than £5,000 then it will likely need to go through probate.

This decision of whether the estate is small enough for probate not to be needed will be up to the decision of the bank and whether they think the money is a small enough amount to release, without the need for the probate process. Always speak to the bank and probate solicitor in this case if you are unsure.


The Probate Process

The probate process always varies in terms of length. No case is the same so therefore no probate process will be identical. The process will often involve complicated legal stuff including tax, and financial work. To give you a better understanding and more of a clear view of probate then read on to learn more about the process.


Stage One

The deceased assets will be identified, including all of their property, possession, investments and any other assets. All of their debts, if any, will also be calculated to work out the total remaining value of their estate.

In this stage, it will also be verified who is entitled to inherit what from the estate, under the terms of the Will. If there is no Will, this will be in accordance with the rules of intestacy.


Stage Two

Calculating and paying Inheritance Tax comes next, this is paid to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), along with submitting the Inheritance Tax return. Then comes applying to the Probate Registry for the grant of probate / letters of administration, which is the document confirming who has the legal authority to distribute the estate.


Stage Three

After probate has been granted, next comes liquidating (to sell) the assets. This includes paying administrative expenses, settling liabilities and accounting to HMRC for any further tax due to or from the estate.


Stage Four

Preparing the estate for payments out and into it, sending estates accounts to the executor of the Will for approval or the administrator when there is no Will, before the remaining balance is left to distribute to the beneficiaries.


Stage Five

The final phase involves transferring assets to beneficiaries, provided there are no challenges before or at this stage. The balance of the estate will be distributed in line with the terms of the Will or when there is no Will, in line with the rules of intestacy.


Bell Lamb & Joynson

We hope you have grasped in more detail the meaning of probate, what the probate process entails along with the right times for when probate is required - and times when it is not needed too.

Remember, you don’t have to go through probate alone. At Bell Lamb & Joynson, we understand that probate can be a complicated process and dealing with death can be an extremely difficult and upsetting time.

Speak to us at Bell Lamb & Joynson - we have a dedicated team of probate specialists who can help you today with our probate services. No matter what the circumstances or what the case is, we can offer our expert advice to you through the process of probate.

Still unsure whether probate is required for your loved one? Get in contact with us today and we can help you, all of our contact details can be found on our website.

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