Last updated on:
March 17, 2024

Probate refers to the legal process of managing and distributing a deceased person's estate, which includes their property, money, and possessions. It involves obtaining the legal right to deal with their assets and is necessary to pass ownership of the deceased's assets to their beneficiaries. Whether probate is required can depend on the presence of a will and the complexity of the estate.

Who Can Apply for Probate?

  • With a Will: The executor named in the will applies for probate to carry out the deceased's wishes.
  • Without a Will: The closest living relative can apply to become the estate's administrator.

An executor or administrator can work alongside up to four individuals to manage the responsibilities.

Probate Process

  • Assess the value of the estate, including property, assets, and debts.
  • Close the deceased's bank accounts.
  • Settle any outstanding debts or mortgages.
  • Calculate and pay any due Inheritance Tax, if the estate exceeds the £325,000 threshold.
  • Distribute the remaining assets per the will or, if absent, according to the rules of intestacy.

Special Circumstances

Probate might not be necessary if the deceased's assets were jointly owned, as ownership automatically transfers to the surviving co-owner(s).

How to Apply for Probate

You can apply for probate online, by post, or engage a solicitor to handle the process. An application fee applies for estates valued over £5,000.

Before applying, it's crucial to report the estate's value to HMRC to determine Inheritance Tax obligations.

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