Losing a loved one is always deeply distressing. The adversity of the experience can easily be compounded if they have named you the executor of their will. However, before you can start managing their assets, you will need to establish whether you would need a grant of probate.
What is a grant of probate?
This term – often abbreviated as simply ‘probate’ – refers to a legal document you would show to numerous organisations, such as banks and the Land Registry. It confirms that you are authorised to deal with your recently departed loved one’s estate.
A grant of probate is not always needed where the estate is of low value or comprises of limited assets. It’s also possible that, if the deceased owned their assets jointly with someone else who is still alive, ownership is automatically transferred to this person upon the other’s death. Obtaining legal advice at an early stage in the process is beneficial to assist you in determining whether a grant of probate is required.
How long does a grant of probate take?
On average, it can take a year from a person’s death to complete probate and distribute the estate. If the estate is less complicated, then it may take less time. However, the probate process could still take at least six months. It depends on the value and complexity of the estate.
The process begins by establishing the assets and liabilities of the estate. We then calculate whether Inheritance Tax is payable. Then, you must complete an application to the probate court to appoint an executor or executors of the estate. Before a grant of probate can be issued, any outstanding inheritance tax that’s due from the estate will need to be paid. There will often be exemptions and allowances available. These can reduce the tax payable, or may mean that no Inheritance Tax is due.
Do I need a solicitor for a grant of probate?
You don’t always need the assistance of a solicitor in obtaining a grant of probate. However, the legal and financial stakes can be so high that a solicitor’s assistance is often recommended.
Remember that if any beneficiaries of the Will take issue with how you have administered the estate, they could take legal action against you. You can get valuable peace of mind from a solicitor making sure the probate application process in your case is legally watertight.
For expert advice as to whether a grant of probate is required please contact one of our expert solicitors either based at our offices in Nuneaton or Warwick. Our website includes further guidance on obtaining probate, while we can also advise you over the phone. Please telephone our offices on 024 7638 2343 to make an appointment.