‘Probate’ is the general term for all the various legal and financial processes involved in dealing with the ‘estate’ left by someone after death. The estate includes assets, such as property, investments, savings, pensions and possessions and also any liabilities such as loans, credit cards and bills.
In order to begin the process, you will need to obtain a ‘Grant of Probate’. This is a Court order, which will appoint one or more people as ‘Personal Representatives’ granting them the authority to deal with the estate. The Personal Representatives can either handle the matter directly themselves, or appoint a solicitor to administer the estate for them. In most cases there will be a Will left by the deceased, leaving instructions on how they wish for the estate to be distributed amongst friends and family. It is it the responsibility of the Personal Representatives (or their solicitor) to carry out these wishes.
If they passed away without leaving a Will, you will instead need to apply for ‘Letters of Administration’. Whilst these letters serve much the same purpose as a Grant of Probate, the process of obtaining them is more difficult. Without a Will to name executors and wishes, the entire family tree must be investigated in detail to take any and all relatives into account and make contact appropriately. This may require employing Genealogists to locate and trace all family members.
When applying to the court for the Grant of Probate, you will need to supply a full valuation of the estate, including the value of any properties, bank accounts, investments and any other assets. If you are applying for the Grant by yourself, you will be required to attend a personal interview at the local Probate Registry and will need to be satisfied that you have carried out all the correct steps and obtained accurate valuations.
You are also able to instruct a solicitor to handle the Grant of Probate application for you, which we would be more than happy to assist with. Along with the application itself we would also prepare a full valuation of the estate, as well as writing a ‘Statement of Truth’ as part of our services, which would negate the requirement for you to attend any interview at the Probate Registry. We are also able to apply for Letters of Administration if necessary.