Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person passes away, involving the validation of their will and the distribution of their assets to beneficiaries.

It can be a very intimidating process to apply for, and for many it can cause a lot of distress at a very vulnerable time, especially if your loved one has recently passed away.

In the UK, the presence of a will can significantly impact the probate process. In this blog, we’ll delve into the ways in which having a will influences the probate procedure.

The Probate Process with a Will

When a person passes away with a valid will, the probate process generally involves these steps:

  1. Inheritance Tax Calculation: The executor calculates the inheritance tax due based on the estate’s value and applies for any available reliefs or exemptions.
  2. Executor’s Role: The appointed executor applies for a Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry, which authorises them to manage the deceased’s estate.
  3. Asset Valuation: The estate’s assets, including property, investments, and personal possessions, are valued.
  4. Inheritance Tax Calculation: The executor calculates the inheritance tax due based on the estate’s value and applies for any available reliefs or exemptions.
  5. Debts and Expenses: The executor pays off the deceased’s debts, funeral expenses, and any other costs.
  6. Beneficiary Distribution: Once debts are settled and taxes are paid, the remaining estate is distributed to beneficiaries as specified in the will.

The Probate Process without a Will

When a person passes away without a valid will, they are said to have died “intestate.”

Intestacy rules dictate how the deceased’s estate will be distributed among their surviving family members. The process involves several key steps:

  1. Identifying Next of Kin: The first step is to identify the deceased’s closest living relatives. These could be spouses, children, parents, siblings, or more distant relatives if no closer ones exist.
  2. Intestacy Rules Application: The distribution of the estate follows a specific hierarchy set out by intestacy rules. For example:
  • If the deceased had a surviving spouse or civil partner but no children, the spouse receives the entire estate.
  • If the deceased had a spouse and children, the spouse may receive a fixed amount of the estate plus a portion of the remaining estate, with the children sharing the rest.
  1. Grant of Letters of Administration: Instead of a Grant of Probate, which is obtained when there is a will, the next of kin applies for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This legal document provides the applicant with the authority to manage and distribute the deceased’s estate.
  2. Payment of Debts and Taxes: The next of kin settles any outstanding debts, including funeral expenses, and calculates and pays any applicable inheritance tax.
  3. Valuation of the Estate: The estate’s assets, including property, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings, are valued to determine the total worth of the estate.
  4. Beneficiary Distribution: Once debts and taxes are settled, the estate is distributed among the beneficiaries according to the intestacy rules. If no eligible relatives are found, the estate will go to the Crown.
  5. Administration of the Estate: The administrator of the estate ensures that the deceased’s assets are properly managed and distributed to the beneficiaries. This includes transferring property ownership, closing bank accounts, and more.

Having a will significantly influences the probate process in the UK. It streamlines the distribution of assets, provides clarity on beneficiaries, and ensures that your wishes are followed.

Creating a well-drafted will with the assistance of professionals can help reduce stress for your loved ones during an already difficult time. Here at robinson+co, our specialised team will be happy to take care of all probate and estate administration work on behalf of the estate.

If you need support simply get in touch with today by calling 01900 603623 and a member of our probate team will be happy to help.