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Probate is the process of administering your estate.
It is the responsibility of the Executors you appoint in your Will to administer your Estate from the moment you die; consequently, there is more to this role than many people realise, and there are some very important initial duties:
* Securing the assets. The executors become legally responsible for the assets of the Testator (the person who has made a the will or given a legacy) immediately, and may need to secure the property and belongings e.g. change the locks on the property, switch off utilities etc.
* They must ensure that the house and contents are insured – remember that if a property is empty it may void an existing insurance policy, unless the insurer has been notified and agreed any change to policy terms or premiums
* Legally, an Executor has a duty to arrange the funeral, but normally this also directly involves the family
* Assess the death estate’s assets & liabilities
* Arrange for the Grant of Probate, which gives legal authority to the executors to deal with the Estate
* Calculate whether there is an Inheritance Tax Liability, complete the relative forms, agree with HMRC and arrange to pay HMRC
* Call in assets owed
* Pay outstanding debts and liabilities
* Complete Estate Accounts
* Distribute the estate according to the Will.
Many family members are appointed as executors in Wills, with no idea of the responsibilities arising. It is sometimes the case that a family member does not know they are named as an executor until after the Testator has died. In such circumstances, Executors who do not feel able to complete the role can appoint us to deal with an estate’s administration, removing any burden when people are grieving.
What if there’s no will?
The next of kin can apply to take responsibility for sorting out the deceased’s estate if no Will has been left. In Scotland, this is known as ‘confirmation’, in Northern Ireland it is called a ‘grant of probabate’, and in England and Wales it is known as a ‘Grant of Representation’.