Probate explained

Probate is a term used to describe the legal process involved in administering the estate of a deceased individual, usually with someone taking control of the deceased person’s affairs. Controlling a deceased person’s affairs is known as being an executor (if there is a Will) or an administrator (if there is no Will).

There are usually a variety of legal steps that have to be taken before assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate. Beneficiaries are, in other words, those who have entitlement to a certain amount of the deceased’s assets as stated in the Will.

Executors and administrators

If a deceased individual does have a Will, then the organising of the sharing of assets detailed in the Will is handled by an appointed person or by several people (up to four). These people are the executors.

It can be the case that a deceased person does not have a Will. In this situation, control of the deceased person’s assets is usually handled by the closest next of kin (for example a civil partner or child).

In any case where there is no Will, the responsibility of sharing a deceased person’s assets will go to whoever applies for probate, providing they are eligible candidates. This person is then referred to as an ‘administrator’.

The role of executor and administrator are the same.

In any situation where someone has passed on, it is likely that there are many events that need to be organised, such as funeral arrangements. It is also likely that it will be a highly emotional time. Probate solicitors can help with all aspects of probate, and appointing a probate solicitor can be of benefit for many reasons.

Probate law

The Senior Courts Act 1981 contains all the procedures involved in probate in section 25. Due to the procedures falling within this jurisdiction, the only body that can issue the documents that allow an individual to deal with the estate of a deceased individual is the High Court.

The way to obtain the relevant approval to take over a deceased person’s assets is to contact the local Probate Registry, which forms a part of the High Court. The Probate Registry can produce and issue documents known as ‘Grants of Representation’. These documents essentially give a person control over many aspects of a deceased person’s affairs, such as bank accounts and property.