Probate is the right to take care of someone's affairs after they have died. In a Will the person given Probate is the Executor. If someone has died without a Will this will be a spouse, civil partner, or immediate family. This piece will discuss the ins, outs and issues around Probate.
To be given probate you must apply for a Grant of Representation from the government.
The Executor will be named in the Will. That person or people should apply for a Grant of Representation. They will be granted probate.
There are issues surrounding this – the Executor may be unable to carry out their responsibilities or be unwilling. Contact your local Probate Registry if this is the case.
If the person has died without a Will, things get a little complicated.
If you were married or in a civil partnership with the deceased, you can normally be granted Probate with no fuss at all.
If you had joint deeds on property and bank accounts you do not need probate, though if they possessed property and you are not named then you will have to get a Grant of Representation from the government.
It is important to note that if you were not married, and living together you cannot be granted probate. Nor will you automatically qualify to inherit that person's assets. The children that you had between you will automatically inherit the assets and can apply for probate.
If your partner hadn't divorced their ex spouse, that person will automatically inherit the deceased's assets.
Applying for a Grant of Representation
This is a fairly complicated process. It comes in five phases.
Fill out a Probate application form. This can be downloaded from this website as well as guidance notes for filling it in.
Value the Estate. A simple guide can be found on this government website
Fill in an Inheritance Tax form, even if their assets are worth over £320 000 in total and they don't have to pay any.
Send the Inheritance Tax Form, Probate application, Death Certificate and any supporting documents to your local Probate Office. You will have to pay a fee, which at the time of writing this guide is £105. This does not have to be paid if that person's assets are under £5000.
Swear an Oath that the information is the truth to the best of your knowledge. The Probate Office will give you an appointment to swear it.
Once you have Probate
Once you have Probate you have the right to collect all that person's assets. You can pay off debts and close accounts.
After that, you can distribute the person's assets among their family and anyone who has been named in their Will.