‘Probate’ is the legal process of dealing with a deceased person’s estate (group of assets). When there is a will, this process focuses on confirming that it is an accurate picture of the deceased person's estate. If there is no will, this process focuses on confirming the assets of the deceased person's estate. Probate approves the executor (if there is a will) or Next of Kin (if there is no will) to assign the deceased person's assets.
How to apply for probate:

The process of applying for probate is the same for everyone in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. However, in Scotland this is known as confirmation.

  • There are two main routes which determine who must apply for probate and this depends on whether there is a will:
  • If there is a valid will - the executor will need to apply for probate
  • If there isn't a valid will - the Next of Kin will need to apply for probate or letters of administration.

Regardless of who applies (executor or Next of Kin) both must prepare the deceased's financial information for the court.

  • This includes but is not limited to determining:
  • The debts owed
  • The tax owed
  • Investments made
  • Life insurance policies and,
  • Bank balances

Once this is collected the executor must submit this alongside the will so the court can determine whether the will is accurate. The Next of Kin will just submit this information so it can be reviewed by the court and so they can distribute it themselves.Once this has been approved by the court the person in charge of the estate (executor or Next of Kin) will be able to distribute the assets. The executor will do this based on the will whilst the Next of Kin will do this based on inheritance law.

Important considerations:

Most estates do not need to apply for probate, if the estate is made up of jointly owned property and money these will pass to the surviving owners and the spouse/civil partner

To learn more: Applying for Probate

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