Featured at number 10 in a strangely varied list of Top 10 searches on Google which also includes “What is scampi?” and “What is Zumba?”; Probate stands out as an issue clearly concerning a large number of uses of the Internet. Carr & Co’s Probate specialist Sharon Smith provides the answer to “What is Probate”…
“When someone dies their assets (usually bank accounts and home if they own it) must be transferred either to their beneficiaries under a Will. Where there is not a Will; then the Estate is described as Intestate and the Rules of Intestacy will apply and those to benefit from the Estate are dictated by law with any husband/ wife receiving the first £250,000.00 plus personal goods. Where there are children, the remaining balance is divided into two equal shares with one half passing immediately to any children and the second to be held for their benefit with the interest being paid to the husband/wife during their remaining lifetime. The banks and purchasers of any property need to know who is authorised to deal with the accounts or any sale of property and this is achieved by the obtaining of a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration as it is known where there is not a Will).
Under a Will, Executors are appointed to obtain a Grant of Probate and they will then deal with the Probate collecting all the assets, paying off any debts and paying out the balance to Beneficiaries named in the Will.
In all Intestate Estates; again the Rules of Intestacy dictate who is required to obtain the Letters of Administration after which they will then carry out the same process as the Executors namely collecting/ cashing any assets, paying the bills and paying out the Beneficiaries in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.
It is not necessary to be legally qualified to obtain a Grant of Probate. Some banks/building societies offer this service however they can be expensive and the services are provided by telephone and post. Some Funeral Director chains also offer this service; again by telephone and post. For those who do not feel able to deal with Probate themselves and would prefer a personal face-to-face service, then a local High Street Solicitor would seem the obvious choice.
However, whomever you use you should always ask for a quote and a time estimate.”