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Facts About Probate

When it comes to probate, there are very few people who really understand all the ins and outs of it. These people are the ones who work in a role that means they come into contact with the issues of probate on a daily basis. For most people, however, their dealings with probate are very limited – and some people may never need to have much to do with it at all. And that’s why it can feel so alien and so complicated when they do suddenly have to contend with it.

There are some facts about probate – and wills – that it may be useful to remember if and when the times comes for needing to be more involved in the probate process.

If you have no will, then your assets won’t necessarily go straight to your spouse, even if that’s what you assume will happen. Without a will, you will have been deemed to have died intestate, and if that happens then there are strict rules about who will inherit what. This is true whether you are legally married, or whether your partner is considered your common law spouse. Stepchildren won’t automatically inherit either. And that’s another reason why you should update your will regularly. If, for example, you divorce and remarry, you may need to revise your will otherwise your estate could be passed to people you would rather it didn’t go to.

Care home fees… this is something that many people worry about. However, you can actually protect your estate from having to be used to pay for a care home. This is when it is useful to speak to an expert in wills who will be able to ensure that the right caveats and legal inclusions are in the right places.

Remember, even if you want a relative to inherit your assets, if they are jointly owned by both you and someone else, the surviving owner will receive the entire asset, no matter what it says in your will.

You can leave assets to children in your will, but they won’t be able to receive the asset until they are 18 (or older if you stipulate a higher age in your will). The asset will need to go into trust until that time.

If you have no blood relatives, your estate may instead go to the government if you have not made a will. In order to make friends or charities as beneficiaries, you will need to ensure that you have a will that states this.

Finally, everything that goes to a spouse or civil partner, or to a charity, from your estate does so tax free. For everyone else, there is potentially inheritance tax to pay. This depends on how much the estate is worth.

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