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Probate: A Simple Guide To How It Works

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What is “probate” and the “NC probate process“? In brief, probate refers to what happens to someone’s money, property and other assets (i.e. their “estate”) after they die.

The people who carry out the deceased person’s wishes are called Executors. These are often family members or trusted, long standing friends.

Executors can also be professionals, such as the will writers and solicitors at our sister company Duncan & Toplis Probate Services Ltd. They have experience in probate and wills for clients in and around Nottingham, and this makes things much easier as they manage the entire process for you.

 

Why Get A Will? Members Of Your Family Could Lose Out On Thousands

 

Around 30% of the UK population lacks a Will. The lack of a Will, moreover, usually presents problems when it comes to probate.

If your family member has died, and they did not tell you about a Will, then they might still have one. A legal professional, financial adviser or Solicitors firm such as Thomas Boyd Whyte can help you look through the paperwork to check.

You might also ask the person’s bank or solicitor if they hold a copy. You could also check the Principal Registry of the Family Division, or see if they left a Will with a specific storage service.

However, if the person truly had no Will then they will be classed as “intestate”. This means that the Rules of Intestacy apply to their estate, and the wealth may not be distributed as desired.

The order of priority for the division of the wealth broadly follows this pattern:

  1. Spouse/civil partner
  2. Children/grandchildren
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Aunts & uncles

An estate worth up to £250,000 will go to the spouse/civil partner of the deceased. Anything above this amount, half goes to the spouse/civil partner and the rest is split between the children (or grandchildren, if the children have died).

Please be aware, cohabiting couples, ex-spouses/civil partners and common law married partners are not included in the above list of priority.

If there is no one to pass the estate on to, then all of the wealth goes to the Crown. This is called “bona vacantia”. So, if you do not already have a Will, make it a priority to get one!

At Castlegate, our financial advisers in Nottingham are well connected with a trusted, capable team of Will Writers who can help.

 

The Probate Process, Briefly Explained

 

If there is a Will in place, then the Executors can begin the probate process.

The first step is for them to acquire a copy of the deceased’s death certificate. The next is to apply for a “Grant of Probate” from the Probate Registry.

This involves the Executors detailing and declaring information about the deceased, and their estate, to the government.

This is where working with a financial adviser and probate specialist can really help, particularly if the estate is large and complex, and if especially if there are assets overseas.

Once this declaration is finished, it needs returning to the Probate Registry together with:

  • The original Will
  • 3 Copies of the Will & any Codicils (i.e. official amendments to the Will)
  • Copy of the death certificate
  • The fee to cover the Probate Registry administration work.
  • Inheritance Tax form (IHT)

The latter IHT form is particularly important, and we especially recommend professional help from a financial adviser to make sure you fill this out correctly.

The Grant of Probate will be given once the Executors have paid the relevant IHT obligation to the government, and after the Probate Registry is satisfied that everything is correctly in place.

Once the Grant is issued, the Executors begin the process of “administering” the deceased’s estate. This step typically involves:

  • Gathering assets
  • Repaying outstanding debts
  • Selling or handing over assets
  • Making appropriate arrangements (e.g. giving pets a new place to live).

After this, inheritances can be handed to the beneficiaries specified in the Will.

Once this is all completed, both the Executors and beneficiaries will typically sign the final accounts of the Estate. At this point, the process is concluded.

If the estate has large, outstanding debts which cannot be repaid, the Executors will face some serious difficulties and obstacles to overcome. We recommend seeking professional advice in this situation, to make sure wise decisions are made.

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