What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process which gives you the authority to deal with a deceased’s estate. The will of the deceased is proved in the court to be their last will and testament and a Grant of Probate is produced by the Court. The Grant of Probate is then used to administer the deceased’s estate.


When do you need probate?

You will require a Grant of Probate in Northern Ireland when an individual’s sole assets are worth over £10,000 and they have died leaving a valid will.


What is meant by a person’s estate?

A deceased’s estate is everything that they owned at the date of death. This is all their assets less any liabilities they may have, for example a funeral account, mortgage, loan or credit card.


What do you do when someone dies?

One of the first steps when someone dies is to register their death to obtain their death certificate. Once you have the death certificate you need to establish if they had a will. If they had a will you will need to contact their solicitor to ascertain who their executor is.


What does an Executor do?

It is an executor’s responsibility to make sure all debts of the deceased are paid and then to distribute the remainder of the estate in accordance with the instructions in the will.


How to I deal with property when someone dies?

If the deceased owned a house in their sole name you will require either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in order to sell or transfer their property.


Our assets are all joint do I need probate?

If all of your assets are joint then they will automatically pass upon succession to the joint owner with the exception of property which you may need to transfer or sell the property but this is a straightforward process and probate is not required for this.

Do I need a solicitor?


No you do not need to have a solicitor to carry out Probate however it can be very time consuming at an already difficult time and a solicitor can take the burden away from the executors.

You will need a solicitor if there is property involved to either transfer or sell the property.


What if it is a small estate, do I still require probate?

In Northern Ireland the probate threshold is £10,000 for all Northern Irish banks and building societies and therefore probate is required if the value of an account is over £10,000 or the collective value of the deceased accounts is in excess of £10.000.

If the estate is under £10,000 the individual bans and building societies will have a small estates indemnity which the executor can complete to access the funds in that account.


How long does Probate take?

For a straightforward small estate Probate should not take any longer than 6 months, for a larger more complex estate 6-12 months. If there is inheritance tax to pay, then the estate must be completed within 12 months of the date of death as the tax payable is due within 12 months of death, otherwise there are penalties.


What happens if my loved one doesn’t have a will?

Dying without a will can be a complicated process. There will be no instructions from the deceased as to how they want their estate distributed and no control over where the assets will go. The estate will be distributed in accordance with the legislation. Once a personal representative is established, they will apply for Letter of Administration on behalf of the estate of the deceased. These Letters of Administration will be used to administer the estate.

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Our Wills & Probate Experts

If you have any questions in relation to the administration of an estate please contact either Judy, judy.rose@oreillystewart.com or Oonagh, oonagh.murdock@oreillystewart.com.