The death of a loved one or family member is already hard enough so when issues around probate and wills comes up, it might be the last thing you want to deal with. Our experienced probate team can guide you through this sensitive time.
While you might still be grieving the loss of a loved one, an application for probate must be made within 6 months of the deceased's death. Let our probate lawyers help you in this difficult time by helping you obtain a grant of probate
The responsibilities of an executor are challenging and can seem never ending, especially when it comes to settling debts and asset division. We're here to help you navigate the complicated laws and rules governing the administration of the deceased estates.
Once probate has been granted, the Will needs to be administered which can be a complicated process. Our wills, estates and probate team can provide advice around lawful administration of the estate right through to the unfortunate situation of contesting a will.
What is Probate?
The term is often used to refer to the entire process of dealing with a deceased’s estate, from applying to the court for the right to administer the estate, to making sure the deceased’s assets are distributed to the right people. More accurately, Probate is the process of being given the legal right to deal with the things a deceased person leaves behind.
To start the process, the first thing that needs to be done is to find out if there is a Will. If there is, it should be read promptly, initially to see if there are any special instructions concerning the funeral. The Will should also name the people who the deceased wishes to be appointed as Executors. The Executors are responsible for administering the estate in accordance with the instructions set out in the Will. The executors apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. The Grant of Probate gives them the legal authority to deal with the estate, such as accessing the bank accounts, encashing investments, selling the house, and discharging any liabilities.
However, if the deceased did not make a Will certain Rules will apply. The Rules set out who is to inherit the assets and that person or people will be appointed as the Personal Representative.
What is the Process of Probate?
The Executor or Personal Representative (where there is no will) has the following duties and responsibilities:
Obtaining valuations of the assets and liabilities of the estate.
Calculating whether any Inheritance Tax is due.
Completing an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Inheritance Tax account.
Settling Inheritance Tax liabilities.
Applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate (where there is a will) or Letters of Administration (where there is no will);
Collecting in the assets of the estate and discharging its debts.
Distributing the assets according to the Will or the Intestacy Rules, after a specific amount of time has lapsed (usually at least six months from the Grant of Probate);
Preparing the estate accounts.
It’s important to bear in mind that claims can be brought against Executors or Personal Representatives who act in a way that constitutes a breach of duty or trust or violate their duties. If successful, the Executor or personal representative will be held personally financially liable for any loss they caused. This is one of many reasons why it is wise to have the assistance of an expert solicitor when applying for Probate.
In some cases, a Trust may arise under the terms of the Will or Intestacy. Some Trusts last for many years during which time you will need both legal and financial advice from an independent financial adviser.
Republic Lawyers can guide and advise you on the most suitable arrangements for decision-making considering your circumstances. Contact one of our experienced lawyers on (02) 8747 1789 to discuss how we may assist you to achieve a favorable outcome.
The above information is intended as general information and is not to be relied on as legal advice.