What is Probate and do I need it?

When people hear the word Probate it usually fills them with dread. There are many myths about ‘Probate’ such as it delays the estate by many months and it costs thousands. This article looks to set out a few facts about what is actually involved in the Probate process and how it can affect you.

Firstly, what is Probate? Probate is the judicial process by which people obtain the authority from the Probate courts to administer the assets of an estate.

If there is a Will this process is called obtaining a ‘Grant of Probate’. If there is no Will this process is called obtaining a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’. Where there is no Will, who has the authority to deal with the assets in an estate will be governed by the laws of intestacy. This stipulates a set list of descendants who inherit and who can deal with the estate.

Ask whether you will need a Grant to administer an estate and you will get a typical lawyers answer… ‘it depends’! Not all estates will need a Grant to gather in the assets, as it depends on the level of assets in the estate. If there is property or land that needs to be dealt with, then you will need a Grant in the estate, unless your property was co-owned and held as Joint Tenants. If there is no property, then it will depend on the level of assets. There is no set universal level for which a Grant will be required and it will depend on the bank in question.

Now moving on to the main questions ‘how long and how much?’! If the estate is below the tax threshold, obtaining your Grant can be a relatively quick process. From submission you can usually expect your Grant in around 4-6 weeks. The lengthiest part of obtaining your Grant comes in understanding what assets there are to complete the Inheritance Tax return required. If the estate is more complex or taxable, then this can be a lengthy process.

Here at MKB Solicitors LLP, we offer fixed fees for applying for the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration and offer options for administering the whole estate on your behalf. If you are unsure about what to do next, give us a call. Our friendly and professional solicitors are happy to help.