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 Probate

ProbateProbate (or more specifically 'Probate of the Will') is an official form that gives the executors of the Will the right to deal with the assets and property of the deceased. When you show the Probate form to a bank, for example, they know they are dealing with the person who has the right to handle the estate, and they will allow you to withdraw money from the deceased’s account.

When you apply for Probate, you are promising the Probate Court that you will deal with ('administer') the estate as set out in the Will and according to the law. If you do not do this, you will be in trouble with the court (and with the people who should benefit from the Will). Probate makes sure that the executors carry out their task properly.
When there is no Will (or there are no executors named in the Will or the executors have died), the official form is called 'Letters of Administration'.

In some cases, there is no need to apply for Probate. This is when:
the person who has died left very little;
everything they owned was held in joint names with someone to whom the deceased's share passes automatically (normally a husband or wife); or
any bank or building society accounts that the person had contain less than 5,000 (though banks and building societies have the right to insist on probate in this case).
However, you will need to apply for probate if the person who died had:
any bank, building society or National Savings accounts with more than 5,000 in them;
stocks or shares; or
property or land (unless it is owned as a joint tenancy and so passes automatically to the other owner).
You may have to apply for probate if the person had any life insurance or term insurance policies which are paid to the estate. Some policies are written so that they are paid straight to the beneficiaries of the policy (rather than to the estate), and you do not need Probate for these kinds of policy.

You will have to apply for Probate if the person who has died gave away large gifts or sums of money (currently totaling 325,000 or more) in the seven years before they died. If that is the case, inheritance tax must be paid on the gifts. Even if these gifts were not worth more than 325,000, their value must be added to the assets of the Deceased, because the amount of inheritance tax is based on the value of the estate plus the value of any gifts made in the seven years before death (excluding certain annual allowances).
In most cases where there is no will you must apply for 'Letters of Administration', which serve the same purpose as Probate. You apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration in the same way you would apply for Probate. However, as with Probate, you may not have to apply for Letters of Administration if the estate had a low value.




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