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  • Writer's pictureStephen Roddy

What is probate?

Probate is the judicial exercise by which a will is "verified" in a court of law and approved as a legitimate public testimony that is the authentic last testimonial of the deceased, or by which the estate is resolved according to the laws of intestacy in the state of residence of the deceased at time of death in the absence of a legal will.
The granting of probate is the inaugural step in the legal development of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under a will. A probate court concludes the legal validity of a testator's (deceased person's) will and grants its compliance, also known as granting probate, to the executor.

The probated will then becomes a legal instrument that may be imposed by the executor in the law courts if required. A probate also formally appoints the executor (or personal representative), generally named in the will, as having legal capacity to abandon the testator's assets in the manner specified in the testator's will. However, through the probate process, a will may be contested.
How much do probate services cost?
Some probate specialists and solicitors charge an hourly rate, while others charge a fee that's a percentage of the value of the estate. This fee is usually calculated as between 1% to 5% of the value of the estate, plus VAT.
How long does the probate process take?
The probate process takes around a year on average, from the date of the person's death to the estate being distributed. It may take less time, but even simple estates usually take a minimum of six months to complete probate.
When is inheritance tax payable?
Even if you don’t think any tax is due, you need to file an inheritance tax return at the same time as applying for grant of probate. Basically, you submit the two forms together. It can help to get inheritance tax planning advice at this stage to make sure you’re paying the correct amount and handling everything in the most tax efficient way.
You have to pay any inheritance tax before grant of probate is issued. You can make the payment up to six months from the end of the month in which the person died (so, if the person died on 12th of January, you would have until 31st June to pay the bill). If you don’t have enough money to cover the payment, you can pay in installments or you may be able to take out a loan that you would pay off once the estate is distributed.

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