Property probate is the legal proceedings of how the estate of a deceased person is administered and distributed. Estate is a general term which includes assets like property, money and possessions worth a significant value. Property probate can seem both stressful and difficult to deal with, however, ProperEaze’s quick guide provides everything you need to know about it.
What Is Probate?
Probate refers to the entire administration process of a deceased person’s estate including distributing any assets, money or possession in accordance with their will. A will is a legal document, or contract, set up by an individual which sets out how they want their assets to be distributed when they pass away.
In wills, people usually name someone as an ‘executor’, which is the person responsible for administering the estate after paying any relevant taxes and debts. Executors can be anyone over the age of 18, and can be a trusted family member, friend or even a professional executor like a solicitor.
How Does the Probate Process Work?
The probate process involves reviewing the assets of a deceased person and considering inheritors. It is not always necessary to have a probate proceeding but if the remaining estate is of high value, it is usually required.
The exact probate process will differ between different estates and different wills. An individual’s will will lay out particular instructions for any assets, beneficiaries or creditors their estate may have.
If someone is named as the executor of the will, they will typically have to gather the full details of the estate’s assets and any debts as they will now be responsible for that. They will need to apply for a Grant of Probate before doing anything as this will grant them the permission needed to administer the estate and distribute any inheritance. In addition, they will need to complete an inheritance tax return to pay any due tax.
Once the Grant of Probate is received, they can repay any of the deceased’s outstanding debt and distribute the estate in accordance with the instructions left in the Will. If there are any disputes between the beneficiaries, the executor, creditors, or HMRC, then the process may be less straightforward and it can slow down the process, especially if you are looking to sell the house.
Probate can also be complicated if there are any disputes between the executor, beneficiaries, creditors, or HMRC.
How Long Does Probate Take?
Generally speaking, probate can take around a year for the majority of estates; however, this will depend on several factors and will vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate. For example, international probate can be much more complicated and can take anywhere between 6 months to 2 years.
Disputes between any of the relevant parties can make the process slower and delay the administration of the estate as well – thus, it can be both an emotionally and financially challenging time if not completed smoothly or efficiently.
Can You Get Probate If There Is No Will?
If there is no will, you cannot get a Grant of Probate and can therefore not make the probate house sale you may need. However, you can still administer the estate and distribute the estate via a slightly different process. Rules of intestacy lay out who can apply to administer the estate
If there is not a will to lay out how the assets should be distributed, you might be able to apply for a Grant of Administration. The administrator can then decide how assets are distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Under these roles, only spouses, civil partners, children and close relatives can inherit the estate.
Can You Challenge a Will?
It might be possible to contest a will if you think that it is not an accurate representation of the deceased’s intentions for their estate. There are certain cases where you might be able to challenge a will which include, but not exhaustive to, the following:
- The deceased was not in their right mind when writing the will
- The deceased was under undue influence when the will was written
- The will has been forged
- You were financially dependent on the deceased and the will hasn’t made provisions for you
Can You Change a Will After Death?
It is possible to change a valid will but you are only allowed to make changes to the share of inheritance that has been distributed to you. For example, it would be possible to:
- Redistribute the assets that were given to you and give them to different people instead
- Reduce your inheritance tax
- Set up a trust for your family using your inheritance tax
- Give away your whole entitlement
If you wanted to do this, you will need to apply for a ‘deed of variation’ or a ‘deed of family arrangement’. Likewise, you can also find out more about how you can sell sell your property fast with PropertyEaze.