The process of handling someone’s Estate depends on whether the executor does it himself or appoints another person or a professional on his behalf. Appointing a professional can be a good move and could be important if the estate affairs are complex; it is so because the professional can then take all the necessary steps incidental and necessary to the handling of the probate process quite efficiently.
Execution of a Will requires communication of all the relevant government departments and other authorities of the person’s death and submission of the appropriate applications to banks, councils, HMRC for tax affairs, Passport Office, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Department for Work and Pensions, Veterans UK, and building societies, etc. A “Tell us once” service ensures all concerned authorities are informed of the death at once.
A grant of Probate may not be needed if the deceased has:
- Jointly owned land, property, shares, or money, as these will automatically pass to the surviving owners
- Assets are not owned in the personal capacity but held in a trust as a lifetime tax planning of the deceased
- Assets of a value less than £5,000
- Only a savings account
Obtain a Grant of Probate
In most cases, the Executor will have to obtain the grant of Probate to execute a Will and administer the Estate, which is permission to handle their Estate. To obtain a grant of Probate, the death is required to be registered, have assets valued, complete the probate application form, pay inheritance tax, and take an Executor’s oath at the probate registry or a local solicitor’s office.
Only certain people can apply for Probate. Executors named in it can apply for a Probate if there is a Will. If there is no Will, the closest living relative of the deceased can make an application.
Contesting a Probate
The law permits the contestation of a Probate of a Will. Any person who is a beneficiary under the current or previous Will, a family member, owed money by the deceased, financially dependent on the deceased, or promised something not granted in the Will can contest the Probate. When a dispute arises regarding the validity or contents of a Will or how the deceased’s Estate is distributed after death, this is known as Contentious Probate.
If the Will fails to comply with the formalities required by law, contains any matter sufficient to prove that the Will is invalid, or if two people are entitled to apply for the Probate, all such matters can also prevent or delay the grant of a Probate.
While the proceedings are underway and the concerns raised are being investigated, the court will not allow the grant of a Probate. The matter will then be left to the discretion of the court, which will resolve the grant of a Probate to a party which the court seems appropriate.
In most cases, the Executor is chosen by the deceased and declared in his Will. If there is no Will, the Estate will be administered according to the intestacy rules. Generally, it is a common practice to nominate one of the beneficiaries as the Executor for the Estate – for example, a child, a close friend, or a partner.