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A beginner’s guide to probate

When someone close to you passes away, the shear number of forms, arrangements and notifications that need to be made and dealt with can seem overwhelming.

Many people will never have dealt with probate before, and even knowing where to start can be difficult. So here are some key points to help you find your way through this complex world and come out satisfied.

What is a grant of probate?

When someone dies, their debts will need to be paid and their assets distributed to their beneficiaries. A grant of probate validates the will of the deceased person and allows the transfer of their estate to begin.

Without a grant of probate, this process cannot begin and the estate and beneficiaries will be left in limbo.

Getting a grant of representation

If the deceased person has left a will, they will normally have named the person or persons that they wish to administer to their estate.

If no will has been left by the deceased person, the next of kin or another interested party will need to apply for permission to begin administering the estate.

The executor will then normally have to apply for a grant of representation, giving them the right to act on behalf of the deceased.

However if the estate is worth less than £5,000 or the deceased owned everything jointly with another person, this may not be required.

Distributing the estate

Once you’ve obtained the grant of representation, the next step is to gather together all of the deceased’s assets and transfer them to the beneficiaries.

If the person has left a will, try to follow their wishes as closely as possible, distributing their assets as they would have wanted. If they haven’t left a will, there are guidelines, known as the rules of intestacy that need to be followed to ascertain who is entitled to what.

This process can vary enormously in complexity depending on circumstance and can take anything from a few weeks to a few years to complete, so try to be patient and stay organised throughout.

If you need help or advice in dealing with an issue of probate, there are plenty of organisations out there that can help, so don’t be afraid to ask if it’s all getting a bit much.

If you want to get your own affairs in order to simplify the process for your loved ones, Co-op Probate Forms are available from any branch or go online for more information.


12 February 2017   Copyright Andrew Heenan    

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