Probate

Probate is a term that means dealing with someone’s estate (property, money, personal possessions, and even debts) after their passing. Probate is a legal right, so you’ll have to apply for this. Not everyone will be able to apply for probate and your eligibility will depend on whether the person who’s passed has left a will or not.

  • If the person who has passed has left a will, it should name who is allowed to deal with the estate (the executor) – this person can apply for probate
  • If the person has not left a will, the closest living relative can apply for probate and if granted, they’ll become the administrator of the estate

An executor/administrator can choose up to four people to share the responsibility with.

The probate involves:

  • Valuing property and other assets
  • Closing bank accounts
  • Paying any leftover debts and/or mortgages
  • Paying Inheritance Tax (IHT) if the estate is over the threshold of £325,000

The person in charge of the estate will also have to distribute the deceased’s assets according to the will, but if there’s no will, then you’ll have to follow what’s known as the rules of intestacy instead.

Side note: if the assets of the deceased are all jointly-owned, for example their husband or wife owns half, then the ownership will be automatically transferred, so no probate will be required.

You can apply for probate online or by post, or you can pay a solicitor to apply for you. There’s an application fee if the estate has a value of over £5,000.

Before applying, you’ll have to estimate and report the value of the estate to HMRC. How much the estate is worth will determine if Inheritance Tax is due.

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