You may have heard the term ‘Probate’ before, but not have known quite what it means. It is used to describe the process of administering, or ‘sorting out’ someone’s estate after they pass away whether they have left a will or not.
Grants of Probate are often requested by banks before they will close down a deceased person’s account. They are sometimes referred to as ‘Certificates of Probate’ or ‘Grants of Administration’.
People are often intimidated by the term ‘Probate’ because they think that it is a lengthily and expensive process. In fact, Grants of Probate are nothing more than court orders which prove that the person who is closing the account is the correct person to do so, and that the account holder has in fact passed away.
If you are appointed as an Executor, or you are the next of kin of someone who has passed away (without a will), then you have a legal responsibility to ensure that the estate of that person is dealt with properly. Your role includes working out the value of a their estate, obtaining authority from the Probate Registry to administer the estate, paying any Inheritance Tax (IHT) due and distributing the balance of the estate to those entitled. If this is not done properly then you may be held liable for any loss which has resulted.
A solicitor may be employed to do any or all of the above on behalf of an executor or next of kin, allowing the estate to be administered in a professional yet sensitive manner.
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