Probate is the process of obtaining authority from the Court to deal with a deceased person’s estate on their death. Until the probate document is issued by the court then it is not legally possible to deal with the assets.
The persons entitled to apply for probate and then deal with the deceased’s estate are the executors appointed in the will or administrators if there was no will; there is a prescribed list of people who are entitled to be the administrators where there is no will of the deceased. Once probate has been granted then the executors (or administrators) can deal with the estate and distribute it according to the terms of the deceased’s will or otherwise as prescribed by the intestacy rules if there is no will. However if the estate is small it is sometimes possible to deal with the accounts of the deceased held in banks and building societies without probate.
Dealing with the estate of a deceased and obtaining probate often involves a lot of documentation to deal with. Further, an inheritance tax return usually has to be completed and any inheritance tax payable paid to the tax authorities within the required time in order to avoid penalties and interest charges. We can deal with all of this for the executors and at the end of the process we will prepare full estate accounts setting out details of the assets realised, debts and tax paid and final distribution to the beneficiaries.
If certain legal conditions are fulfilled it is possible to vary the terms of the deceased’s will so that existing gifts in the will can be varied or even new gifts to others made. Such changes need to be incorporated in a Deed of Variation which we can attend to. Such a deed must be completed within two years of the date of death.