What is the Difference Between a Will and a Probate?

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There is a lot of confusion that arises when a loved one dies. One such question that is on a lot of people’s minds is the difference between a Will and a Probate. The following article is going to explain the differences.

What is a Will?

In the UK, a Will is a legal document that you create and keep updated throughout your lifetime in the event of your death. Its purpose is to allow your wishes to be respected when it comes to who does and does not get left your estate. In the UK, you do not legally have to leave your dependents in your will. Whether you do this for personal or practical reasons is up to you. A dependent can later contest your will if they prove financial need, but for the most part, all Wills are respected and those you want to leave your estate, also known as your Beneficiaries, are bequeathed what you give them.

You can do more in your will than just name your Beneficiaries as well. For example, you can also name who you wish to execute your Will, known as the Executor. You can also name the legal guardians for your dependent children, as well as funeral preferences.

What is Intestate?

Intestate is what happens when you die without a Will. When this happens, it is the law that decides who amongst your family members receives your estate. This could also mean portions of your estate are given to the government. Having a Will, therefore, is imperative for the law to respect your wishes.

What is a Probate?

Probate is part of the process after you die, but it is different from a Will. Probate is the legal process that follows your death, and often occurs before your Estate is managed. The purpose of the Probate is to appoint Personal Representatives to deal with your assets. Their purpose is to:

  1. Finalise all bills and pending accounts
  2. Pay off all outstanding debts
  3. Sell or transfer property as required or as written out in the Will
  4. Gather assets from different locations to execute the Will
  5. Liquidate if necessary the estate into monetary value
  6. Calculate and pay remaining income tax
  7. Calculate and pay the Inheritance Tax (if applicable)
  8. Execute the will and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries

In short, Probate is the process where someone applies to gain control over the deceased’s assets for the purpose of finalising their debt and executing their Will. If there is an Executor named in the deceased’s Will, this person will often need to apply for Probate within a year. There can be cases where someone else wants to contest probate, in which case the matter will need to be settled legally. We can help you win your right to execute your deceased’s will. Contact us today to see if you have a case.

When is Probate Needed?

Probate is needed in most cases, regardless of whether there is a Will or not. They are not needed when:

  1. Spouse is alive, and they own the assets jointly with the deceased.
  2. The deceased had a small estate

Otherwise, you will need Probate to administer the estate. If you do not the estate will remain in limbo. You will need to apply to become the Probate through the government’s website. We can help you through this process, however, and deal with the government as well as the HMRC for you.

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