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Dealing with property and finances after a death

Handling someone’s affairs after they have passed away can be a complex process.

What is probate?
Probate is a word commonly used when we talk about dealing with someone’s affairs after their death.

You may hear the term Grant of Representation. This is a general term that applies to two different legal documents, issued by the court, that gives the Personal Representative the authority to deal with the assets in the estate. Which document is required, depends on whether there is a Will or not.

If the person has left a Will, the executors (those named to carry out the terms of the Will) apply to the court for a Grant of Probate. If there is no Will, a close relative can apply to the court for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

One of the above grants will almost certainly be needed if someone leaves property or land belonging to them alone, stocks, shares or £5,000 or more in cash. These documents are also required by banks, insurance companies, local authorities, pensions or estate agents, if selling a property. Some financial organisations will insist on a grant, even when dealing with a small amount of money. However, they may not be needed if everything was jointly owned and everything automatically passes to the survivor.

How long does probate take?
Probate can take up to a year, or even longer if thing are not straightforward. The terms of the Will, if there was one, the state of financial affairs and any legal disputes can all impact on the time it takes. Once probate has been granted, people still have six months to make claims against the estate.
If you need help navigating this complex area, or you just want a chat about your options, call and speak to our friendly team today – on 01302 320621.  
Atherton Godfrey – “Efficient, understanding and professional” Wills & Probate client

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