When a loved one dies, somebody must assume responsibility for dealing with their affairs. This includes paying funeral expenses and other debts, and ensuring that any money, property or possessions which are left over are passed on to those who are entitled to receive them.
Only someone who has been named in the deceased’s will, or who has been specifically appointed by the court where no will exists, has the legal right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs.
In most cases it will be necessary to apply to the Probate Registry for a grant of representation to demonstrate that you have this legal right. If there is a will and you have been named as an executor, you must apply for a grant of probate. If there is no will and you therefore wish to be authorised by the court, you must apply for a grant of letters of administration. Collectively, these are both known as grants of representation.
There are some limited cases where a grant of probate may not be required, such as where the deceased did not own any property, land or shares, or where everything they owned was owned jointly with their spouse or civil partner. However, the rules are complicated and on occasions some organisations, particularly banks and building societies, may still require a grant of probate before they will deal with you.
Difficulties can also arise if none of the executors named in the will want to deal with the deceased’s affairs, or if there is disagreement between the deceased’s loved ones about who should be appointed where no will exists. Usually, in the absence of a will, the grant will be made to the deceased’s next of kin. It will not be made to someone the deceased was living with prior to their death if they were not married or in a legally recognised civil partnership.
At Mooney Everett Solicitors, we appreciate how difficult it can be to apply for a grant of probate when you are not familiar with the legal process and are still coming to terms with the loss of someone close to you. This is why we have a team of expert probate lawyers, based in Ormskirk, West Lancashire, on hand to guide you through the process and ensure that everything is done properly. This includes:
- completing the probate application form on your behalf, ensuring any necessary supporting documents are attached and the correct fee is enclosed, and sending everything to the Probate Registry;
- determining whether inheritance tax is due and completing the necessary forms;
- helping you to collect in the deceased’ s assets, including assisting you with the sale of any property, land or investments;
- helping you to establish the extent of the deceased’s debts and liabilities by carrying out investigations and arranging for a formal notice to be issued which requires anyone who claims they are owed money to come forward by a specific date;
- assisting with the distribution of any money, property or land that is left over once all debts and liabilities have been settled, either in accordance with the terms of the will, or, if there is no will, under the strict entitlement provisions set out in the rules of intestacy; and
- helping you to recover any money you have had to pay out from your personal funds to enable the deceased’s affairs to be dealt with properly.
We will explain things in plain English, free of any jargon. We will discuss all the options with you, outlining the costs involved from the outset, and make sure that you are kept regularly informed about what is happening.
We can also help you with:
- making a will;
- inheritance and tax planning;
- Estate administration;
- making a power of attorney;
- court of protection applications;
- wills and inheritance disputes;
- loss of mental capacity;
- legacy arrangements;
- varying the terms of a will;
- grant of representation application; and
- inheritance tax rates.