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The definition of probate

What is the definition of probate?  Well, we all know that when we die, what we leave behind in the form of property, money or other assets (known as our “Estate”), must be distributed according to our wishes – a process known as “probate”.

If we have planned for the future, this process will be carried out by the person or persons we named in our Will (known as executors).  After our death, our executors will apply for a “grant of probate” from the probate registry, which will allow them to legally take over all our affairs.  Once this has been granted, they will then use the funds left behind to pay for the funeral (if this is mentioned in the Will), pay off any debts and taxes, and then finally, distribute the rest according to our instructions in the Will.

If however, we have, for whatever reason, chosen not to prepare a Will, life becomes a little more complicated for the loved ones we’ve left behind.  It means that  a close relative can still apply to the probate registry to become responsible for administering your Estate.  In this instance, however, they will look to be given a “grant of letters of administration”.  This can only be awarded once the entire Inheritance Tax bill, if it applies, has been paid.

The whole process of probate can be lengthy and stressful, particularly if someone feels they have the right to contest the Will.  For this reason, despite the fact that it may not be pleasant to think about your own death, it is always advised that you should prepare one in readiness, to avoid any future conflict or resentment.

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