The will and estate
The will and estate
The will and estate intro
Understanding the importance of a clear will, the role of an executor in handling the estate, and the process of applying for probate to validate a will or administer an estate without a will.
A will ensures you can help those around you and ensures your property is dealt with how you want. Without a will, the law dictates what happens to your possessions when you die. No account will be given to your wishes.
After all bills are paid, the person’s ‘estate’ is divided among family members under strict rules contained in the Administration of Estates Act. Wills don’t have to be a complicated legal process.
At its basic level, it is a letter of wish of how someone’s assets should be distributed following their death. There are other conditions to be considered if there are children and relatives involved.
Although it isn’t necessary for a solicitor to draw up a will, care must be taken to make it clear and concise to avoid long and expensive court cases. There are many books, guides and printed forms available to help you.
The internet can be a great resource to download wills in a standard format from legal stationers.
An estate is someone’s money, property and possessions. If you are dealing with a person’s affairs, you must first find out whether they left a valid will.
This will inform you of their wishes regarding the distribution of their estate. An ‘executor’ is the person chosen in the will to sort out the estate and follow the wishes of the will.
You may wish to use a solicitor to deal with someone’s estate for you or if the deceased had already instructed a solicitor to act on their behalf. Always establish a solicitor’s charges before you choose them.
Applying for probate
Probate is the process of officially proving that a will is valid.
If the deceased didn’t leave a will this process can still apply, with the grant called letters of administration.
If you are entitled to deal with someone’s estate, you may need to apply for a Grant of Representation. This legal document allows you to carry out the wishes of the deceased and can be shown to anyone holding a person’s assets, for example banks.
It is advisable to check with a solicitor first, as this isn’t always necessary. The probate office will send forms, along with guidance for completion and relevant fees.
They will issue the grant if the deceased left a will. If there is no will, the office will grant a letter of administration.
It may not be necessary to obtain a grant of probate where possessions are in joint ownership and are passing by survivorship. A death certificate may be sufficient enough for the joint holder to receive the money they are entitled to.
Certain institutions may also release the money if it is a small amount. Staff at probate registries can offer guidance on how to obtain a grant but they cannot provide legal advice.
For more information, and to receive the relevant forms, please call us on 0845 302 0900 or visit the websites below: