The Probate process can become a welcoming distraction from grief. Hiring specialists and attorneys for the probate process can cost a lot of unnecessary effort and money. It can become very overwhelming to focus on the probate process with low prior knowledge. Outlining the basic steps required in the probate process can help you plan and organize.
The Probate process contains 5 simple steps:
- Registering Death and Finding Out if there is a Will.
- Applying for Grant of Probate and Sorting Inheritance Tax.
- Informing Interested Parties and Closing All Accounts.
- Valuing the Estate.
- Distribution of the Estate.
You can learn how to appoint a specialist and how much it costs. This can be important if you are dealing with a complicated estate. Also, a specialist can help a lot if you are not confident about sorting out probate yourself.
Following outlines and explains the main steps while going through the Probate Process.
Registering Death and Finding Out if there is a Will
You might need a copy of the deceased’s death certificate for each of the assets of the estate. Banks accounts, mortgages, and credit cards are some examples of such assets. Thus, you need to register the death of the deceased before you can move forward.
It is also very important to see if there is a will present. The will is important as it will establish who is the executor, or who will be the beneficiaries of the estate and other assets.
If a will is not present, the laws of Intestacy will apply. This means the distribution of the estate as inheritance.
Applying for Grant of Probate and Sorting Inheritance Tax
After finalizing the executor, he/she needs to apply for a grant of Probate. The executor will have the right to access funds of the estate and divide assets through this grant.
This stage may need heavy filing. You need to complete a probate application form and an inheritance tax form to get the grant. There are certain provisions available on the internet to smoother this process.
Informing Interested Parties and Closing All Accounts
After getting the grant, all asset holders should receive copies. You will also need to request them to release any funds. Besides this, you will also need to post statutory advertisements in local gazettes. This will be in favor of creditors and other claimants.
Closing of all accounts will need paying off all debts and collecting any monies owed. Usually, the executor opens a bank account in his/her name for the functioning of this step. This stage will also deal with selling off any assets of the estate to settle all debts. Funeral expenses, taxes, creditors such as loans, etc. are some of the examples of these debts.
Creditors can also apply for an ‘insolvency order’ if there are not enough funds left to settle debts. This would divide any assets passed on or force sale to settle such debts.
Valuing the Estate
In this step, you will need to make a detailed inventory of all the different assets of the estate. The value of the estate would refer to what price it would fetch if sold in an open market. This valuation can include stocks, investments, life insurance, and houses. Chattels, artwork, or other personal items are some of the other examples of assets. You need to collect the documentation for bank accounts, passbooks, property deeds. This will be necessary towards the burden of proof on such valuation.
Distribution of the Estate
The Executor may distribute the estate after the competition of the above-mentioned steps. They can divide the estate in lines of will or intestate if a will is not present.
After the division of all the assets, the executor may close their bank account on behalf of the estate.
Make sure to keep all the relevant documentation of such distribution. This can work as a contingency plan if any legal issue regarding the estate occurs.
Sorting out a deceased family member’s estate can be a very overwhelming process. Thus, you can follow the above-mentioned steps to understand the probate process with minimal complications. Most of the time, the executor named in the will takes the role of dealing with probate. Yet, if the will does not name an executor, the probate court would follow a law mandated course. If you need help in going through the probate process, you can always hire a probate attorney who will take care of all these stages for you.