Probate and the Will (or where there is no Will)

After a loved one has died, you may need to apply for confirmation of the legal authority to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’). This is known as applying for probate.

The process will vary depending on whether or not the deceased had a Will. If they did, then the Executor appointed within the Will is the person who deals with the estate. If they did not have a Will (known as ‘intestate’) then it will fall to a family member, as laid down by the law.

Dealing with a person’s estate is a significant responsibility; in order to carry out a deceased loved one’s wishes exactly as they have set out (if they had a Will) or how the law dictates (if they did not).

Essentially, for most estates, the process will be:

  • Valuing the deceased’s estate
  • Reporting the value to HMRC
  • Applying for probate. This is the process that allows a person to sell or transfer the deceased’s property in accordance with the Will or by strict division according to legislation.
    • If the person had a Will, the Executor named in the Will applies for a ‘Grant of Probate’ to begin this process.
    • If the person did not have a Will, certain family members can apply for ‘Letters of Administration’ to begin this process.
  • Pay any inheritance tax
  • Collect together all the deceased’s assets, e.g. the proceeds from the sale of a house, their bank accounts and other savings or bonds
  • Pay off any debts of the deceased, such as utility bills
  • Make a record of all the assets and how they are going to be distributed
  • Reimburse any expenses paid during the estate administration
  • Distribute the assets to the people named in the Will