It is sad to say that unfortunately we are not immortal and cannot take our possessions with us, but surely my family will get everything anyway, without any problems?
Sadly this is not the case as if you have assets over £15,000.00 your executors are required to obtain a legal document known as a “Grant of Probate” if you die leaving a will or a “Grant of Letters of Administration” if you die without a will (intestate). When a person dies, they usually leave an estate (including money, possessions and property) and sometimes a will. A will should name one or more executors who are responsible for collecting in all the money, paying any debts and distributing any legacies left to individuals or organisations.
In order to access the estate, the executor needs to apply to the probate registry for a document called a Grant of Representation or ‘grant’. This process is called probate. The grant establishes who can legally collect money from banks, building societies and other organisations which hold assets belonging to the deceased person. These grants appoint people known as personal representatives to administer the deceased person’s estate.
IS A GRANT ALWAYS NEEDED?
Not every estate needs a grant. A grant may not be needed if the home is held in joint names and is passing by survivorship to the other joint owner(s). This can be the case for married couples and those in a legal civil partnership; if there is a joint bank or building society account. In this case, the bank may only need to see the death certificate, in order to arrange for the money to be transferred to the other joint owner.
However, a grant could still be needed to access assets held in other bank accounts or insurance policies; if the amount held in each account was very small. You will need to check with the organisations (banks, building societies or insurance companies) involved to find out if they will release the assets without a grant. If none of the circumstances above apply, a grant may be required.
WHAT IF I NEED A GRANT OF PROBATE OR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION?
You have options when it comes to extracting the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration - visit a Solicitor, use your Bank or Do-it-Yourself.
Using a Solicitor or Bank can be a costly affair, however if you do not want to take the trouble to take the DIY approach then these will do everything for you.
If on the other hand you will to do it yourself then you will need to obtain all the relevant information before completing the necessary paperwork.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
A normal probate if properly executed can take usually between six month and a year, maybe longer if there are unforeseen circumstances or delays.
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