What is Probate?

Posted: 12/12/2017

Probate the process of handling someone’s money, possessions and final wishes after they have passed away. In this guide, we will take you through all the important questions and provide answers to better your understanding of probate.

Who can carry out probate?

In the Will of the deceased, provided they have left one, it may state the designated executor or executors. This person or people are expected to “execute” the Will, meaning that they will share out the estate as written in the Will, deal with any complications and carry out the final wishes of the person who has come to pass. However, even if you are the only person named as executor, you do not legally have to act as such if you do not wish.

In the event that there is no name given for the executor, or there is no Will at all, someone must become the administrator of the estate – this will be someone who would benefit from the Will or a family member if there is no Will in existence. The role of the administrator is extremely similar, but the difference is they do not have a Will to work with to act upon.

Do they have a Will?

It has been estimated that only around 30% of people have a Will in place when they die. Therefore, it is quite possible that the deceased has no left one behind, leaving them what is known as intestate.

It is quite possible that a Will has been created without your knowledge, so be sure to check their paperwork to see if there is a copy of a Will anywhere. If the Will is nowhere to be seen amongst their personal possessions, they may have kept a copy at their solicitors or their bank. They may have even left a copy at a dedicated Will storage centre – in order to retrieve this you will need to provide proof of death, such as a death certificate. You may even need evidence to support you being named the executor.

Whether there is a Will or not, it will not ultimately affect the process of probate in terms of legality. Having a Will should make the job easier, however.

No Will?

If there is no Will, a blood relative will become the administrator of the estate. Without a Will, the person who has passed away’s estate will become intestate, meaning that the estate must be distributed according to the strict rules of intestacy. It is normal you have no idea what to do in this situation, in the case of this, contact a solicitor for advice.

How long does probate take?

The length of time will be dependant on how complex the estate is. If there are complications to do with assets, such as multiple properties, shares and accounts, the process is likely to take slightly longer than if they have owned fewer assets and a single bank account.

The time will also be dependant on how much of your time, and the time of the other representatives, you can spare at any given time. It may be wise to see if you can take extended leave from work in order to deal with probate, this will speed up the process for sure.

On average, the process of probate should take between six to nine months to complete, taking up to eighty working hours. However, it is not unheard of for probate to take years to sort out in more unique circumstances.

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