Probate – What you need to know

When you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, dealing with mountains of paperwork and red tape is probably the last thing you feel like doing.

That mountain of paperwork is known as Probate, and there are series of steps you need to follow to ensure everything is handled legally.

What are your first priorities?

  • Notify the family doctor – you will also need to obtain a medical certificate. Dependent on where your loved one passed away, the certificate may have already been issued – for example if they were in a hospital or care home. If they died at home, you are more likely to need this from the family doctor.
  • Choose a funeral director so they can start arranging the funeral for you. It’s helpful if you are already aware of any last wishes such as cremation, religious beliefs, music and so on.
  • Register the death at The Registry Office – you will need to take the medical certificate to do this. We recommend you obtain several copies of the Death Certificate. You do have to pay for these, but it means you can send out copies to handle all of the paperwork, rather than waiting for it to be returned each time.

Whilst you may wish to notify close friends and family, to save you having to communicate multiple times, it may be wise to wait until you have the funeral date before reaching out to more distant family and friends.

Assuming there is a Will, you will need to notify the Executors, if it isn’t you that holds that role. The Executors will need to start the process of obtaining Probate. You can find out more about the process via the Government website: Government – Applying for Probate

What about releasing money from the estate?

The bank will usually require sight of the Grant of Probate before they will release any money. However, if there is only a small balance, banks can release this at their discretion – but will require sight of the Death Certificate.

And, talking of finances, you need to ensure that any organisation that was receiving payment for anything – insurance, mortgage, loans, utilities etc, are all notified of the death, so they are no longer requesting money.

Other things to consider:

  • Care for any pets or children under the age of 18 – in accordance with the Will if there is one
  • Distribution of assets to the appropriate heirs in accordance with the Will
  • Clearing any debts
  • Liaising with HMRC to establish if Inheritance Tax is payable, and then paying this. There is a dedicated department trained to work with people who are bereaved, and they are very helpful. You can find out more here: HMRC – Bereavement and Deceased Estate

Whilst it is more than possible for you to handle Probate yourself, there is no doubt that it is incredibly time consuming. There are a myriad of forms to complete, and it is very easy to choose the wrong one.

Needless to say, you will already feel upset and stressed, and may well feel this is an additional headache that you don’t need. If you would like support, we offer a Probate service, which is charged on a fixed fee – making it a cost effective alternative to working with a lawyer.

If you would like to find out more about how we can support you with Probate please contact us on 01344 875 310.

probate - what you need to know