Writing a will and assigning eligible executors are the first and most important steps to ensuring the security of your family after you die. Managing probate involves the distribution of assets, payment of taxes and deduction of liabilities. To avoid leaving behind a difficult and expensive process for your family and friends, it’s extremely important to establish probate arrangements, especially if your will contains your funeral wishes, as it is unusual for a solicitor to even look at a will until probate is dealt with. Here is a general breakdown of what probate is and how to manage it:
What is probate?
Probate is the legal right to deal with someone else’s estate after they die. If you have been named as the executor of the estate of a friend or relative you may need to apply for a ‘grant of probate ’ which will allow you access to the deceased’s assets. Your solicitor will be able to guide you through the process of dealing with probate and the particulars of the will.
Who deals with probate?
If the deceased has left a will, they will have named executors to deal with their estate. There must be at least one (or two if there are beneficiaries under the age of 18 years). If there is no will, or no clearly named representative, then normally the next of kin will be able to apply for probate rights although this may be more complex and costly. You can ask friends or family to be your executors but it is a time consuming and sometimes burdensome job so you may wish to consider asking your solicitor to at least one of the executors.
What happens next?
Administering an estate involves collecting in all the deceased assets and their liabilities, calculating any inheritance tax, and making sure the tax, bills and expenses are paid before distributing the assets. This can include:
- Finances and savings
- Property and land
- Stocks and shares
- Insurance policies
- Utility bills for their place of residence
- Funeral expenses
- Credit card bills
- Probate and legal fees
After the payment of tax and liabilities, the executor will distribute the assets strictly according to the deceased’s will and ensure that any personal or financial gifts are bequeathed to named recipients. So even if your auntie Mable always said you could have her tea set and lace tablecloth, if it’s not in the will, you can’t have it!
Having professional support and advice can be reassuring while acting as an executor of a will, and your solicitor will help to ensure that probate issues are resolved as quickly and sensitively as possible. If you’re thinking of drawing up a will or adjusting an existing one, you may wish to consider appointing your solicitor as your executor to relieve your family from the duties of dealing with your estate once you’re gone. For any advice on wills, probate, and powers of attorney, please get in touch with us at www.franceslindsay.co.uk and one of our friendly family lawyers will be able to help you.making a will Windsor, probate lawyer Berkshire, probate lawyer Buckinghamshire, probate solicitor Beaconsfield, probate solicitor Maidenhead, probate solicitor Windsor