Probate is the legal term used to define the legality of dealing with the affairs of a deceased person. The correct term used is ‘grant of probate’ and is an authoritative order of the Court. It grants the legal authority to a person to administer the deceased person’s estate so that it can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
Who can apply for probate?
Typically the people that have a right to apply for Grant of Probate are those persons who are referred to as personal representatives (PRs) and are charged with administering the estate of the deceased. They will be typically referred to as executors of the estate where there is a Will and they are so named. On the other hand they may be next of kin if the Rules of Intestacy are applied when no Will exists when death occurs.
Typically there are two main kinds of Grant of Representation and these are as follows:
- The Grant of Probate, when a Will exists
- Letters of Administration, in the absence of a Will
Individuals who are imbued with and named in the grant of Representation carry a great responsibility. Legal firms are constantly being asked the question:
…“what is probate and how does it affect me”…
The trouble is this question is more often than not asked after a death has occurred, at a time when there may be many inheritance issues which rear their ugly head. Even if you do not have a country estate or have a fortune stashed away, making a Will and preparing for the worst is always good practice.
The role of an executor
The role of an executor of an estate is not an easy task. It can take many months (even years) to complete the process. It is a legal process tasked with clearing up the affairs of the deceased person. Regardless of whether the executor(s) have legal training or not, they are legally responsible for all matters relating to the deceased person’s estate in its dispersal.
Every action whether it is correct or not, everything which an executor does or fails to do is solely their responsibility. The task of an executor is best left to a trained legal professional, one who has a day to day connection with the law and has experience in such matters.
Tax and death duties
The executor of an estate is responsible for paying any taxes or death duties which are outstanding. Failure to do so could lead to prosecution at a later date. If the estate is small and there is little to disperse with no property ownership, dispersal of the estate can be rapid and with little complexity. However, more property and/or wealth and number of benefactors may give rise to protracted legal issues.
Do not hesitate in getting in touch with a legal professional today to discuss any issues you may have with the drawing up of a Will or dealing with probate.