What is ‘Probate’?

What happens to my affairs after I die?

When you die, someone has to take care of your affairs, pay any outstanding debts and distribute your Estate to those that are entitled to inherit it. This is known as the Probate process. You can choose who you want to do this in your Will by naming them as ‘Executor’. This can be a family member or a professional. You can appoint more than one executor up to four executors.

If you don’t have a Will the person responsible is your next of kin determined by inheritance laws whom we call it as  ‘Administrator’. They have to apply for Letters of Administration to start the Probate process. This is known as an Intestate Estate.

The person responsible for the Probate process whether they are the Executor or Administrator is known as your Personal Representative.

A Grant of Probate (Letters of Administration in the case of an Intestate Estate) is the legal document that is issued by the Probate Registry that gives the Executor or Administrator the entitlement to deal with your affairs and allows them to make all arrangements to finalise the Estate.

It is not always necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate. It depends on whether you owned assets in your sole name that require a Grant of Probate. Some companies or institutions will release assets without requiring a Grant of Probate.

We list below the assets that probably need a Grant of Probate to deal with:

  • A property owned in the sole name of the person who has died or owned with another person as ‘tenants in common’.
  • Bank accounts or savings accounts worth over £5,000
  • Stocks or shares worth over £5,000
  • Life assurance policies
  • Private pensions

One of the first things that your Personal Representative will need to do is to value everything in your Estate. This includes everything of value that you own when you die including your car or personal possessions. We call the total value of assets you own as ‘Estate Assets’.

Then, your Personal Representative will need to see if there is any ‘Estate Debts’ that should be paid out of your Estate. The first thing is to calculate if any Inheritance Tax is due and how much. They will then be responsible for reporting this to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and settling the inheritance tax bill from the Estate. Your Personal Representative will also need to subtract any debts, bills and funeral expenses from the total value of your Estate. Any Lifetime Gifts that you have made in the last 7 years will also need to be taken into account and added back in.

You can choose to appoint JY Partners Solicitors as professional Executors in your Will or if you choose a family member or friend as Executor, we can help them with any stage of the Probate process, either taking on the whole process on their behalf, or just part of it.

Contact our Private Client Solicitors

If you have any enquiries in relation to probate or administration of estate, please contact us on 020 8240 9018 or via the enquiry form on our website to discuss.