After someone dies, their estate, including money, property, investments, and possessions, goes into probate. Probate is how these items are distributed per the deceased’s final wishes. However, the process of probate also depends on whether or not a will exists.
With a Will
If the deceased had a will, then an executor or executors of their estate was named and that person is responsible for carrying out their final wishes. The executor pays the deceased’s, or testator’s, final expenses, locates the beneficiaries, and distributes the assets as per the will. Sometimes this process can take weeks, if not months, because the executor needs to be sure that all the final bills were paid, and they may have difficulty finding beneficiaries as well.
Without a Will
Only about 30% of people leave wills, which means that most people die intestate or without a will. If there is no will, then an administrator needs to be named for the estate. An administrator performs the same tasks as an executor and is usually a blood relative. The relative needs to apply to be the administrator of the estate.
Grant of Representation
Whether an executor was named or the will has an administrator, that person needs to get either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to handle the responsibilities of the estate. These documents are referred to as a Grant of Representation. Although the estate can be handled without the Grant of Representation, it can be difficult to do.
The grant makes it easier for the representative to get access to the deceased’s bank or building society’s accounts. However, a grant may not be necessary if the accounts are joint accounts, as the bank or building society can just change them to sole ownership accounts if the spouse or civil partner provides a copy of the death certificate. Also, if there is very little money in the accounts, then the funds can be released without a grant.
Obtaining a Grant of Representation can take anywhere from three to five weeks, unless there are inheritance taxes that need to be paid or a mistake was made filling out the form to get the grant. Then the process could take much longer. Fortunately, the probate process can be avoided in some cases by the testator.
Probate lawyers in London can help people avoid probate so their families can receive their inheritances much more quickly. They can put their assets into a trust, so that when they pass away, their assets will be distributed much more quickly, or they can transfer assets to their family before they pass on.
If you have assets which you want your spouse, children, or friends to have access to after you die, consult with solicitors about having a will written and avoiding the probate process.