What to expect when administering an estate
- Wills, Trusts & Probate
- 30th Oct 2023
Losing a loved one is never easy, and when it comes to dealing with the legal and financial matters surrounding their estate, the process can seem overwhelming. The legal process of settling an estate is commonly known as probate. This article will unravel the probate process, guiding you through what to expect when dealing with […]
By Samantha KennedyMLP Law
Losing a loved one is never easy, and when it comes to dealing with the legal and financial matters surrounding their estate, the process can seem overwhelming. The legal process of settling an estate is commonly known as probate. This article will unravel the probate process, guiding you through what to expect when dealing with the affairs of the deceased.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. It involves several steps to ensure that their assets are distributed correctly, and any outstanding debts are settled. The process varies depending on the complexity of the estate but generally involves the following key steps:
- Locate a Will: The first step in the probate process is to establish whether the deceased left a valid will. If the will has been validly executed, it will be used to determine how the estate should be distributed.
- Gathering Information: The executor must gather information about the deceased’s assets, debts, and any other relevant financial matters. This may include bank accounts, investments, property, and outstanding loans.
- Valuing the Estate: All assets within the estate must be valued. This includes obtaining fair market value of property, investments, and personal belongings. The executor must also account for any outstanding debts and funeral expenses.
- Paying Inheritance Tax: If inheritance tax is due, it must be paid before distributing assets to beneficiaries. Some estates are exempt from this tax, and there may be reliefs or exemptions available in certain cases.
- Applying for Grant of Probate: To gain legal authority to administer the estate, the executor must apply for a Grant of Probate if there’s a will or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there’s no will. These documents are issued by the Probate Registry and confirm the executor’s authority to act on behalf of the deceased.
- Settling Debts and Expenses: Before distributing assets, the executor must settle any outstanding debts, including income tax and other liabilities.
- Notifying Beneficiaries: After all debts are paid and taxes are settled, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will or the rules of intestacy.
- Closing the Estate: The final step is to wrap up the estate administration. This includes preparing a detailed account of the financial transactions and obtaining clearance from the beneficiaries that they are satisfied with the distribution.
Seeking Legal Advice
Given the complexities of the probate process and the potential for disputes, it’s advisable to seek professional legal advice. Our specialist team are experienced in dealing with a full range of estate administration, guiding you through the process, ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are carried out accurately and that all legal requirements are met.
About the expert
Stephen is the Owner of MLP Law and leads our Commercial, IP and Dispute Resolution teams which provide advice on all aspects of the law relating to mergers, acquisitions, financing, re-structuring, complex commercial contracts, standard trading terms, share options, shareholder and partnership agreements, commercial dispute resolution, joint venture and partnering arrangements, IT and Technology law, Intellectual Property, EU and competition law, Brexit and GDPR.
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