Wills & Probate - a Will is the legal instrument which allows a person (testator) to identify how they wish their estate to be managed and distributed on their death.
Sometimes referred to a Last Will and Testament, a Will disposes of both real and personal property.
A Will allows the testator to select his own heirs and an executor, who is responsible for distributing the proceeds of the Will fairly to the named beneficiaries.
A Will can also safeguard the testator's right to select a legal guardian to raise his young children after their death.
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a dead person by resolving any claims and distributing the deceased's property under the terms of a valid Will.
A surrogate court decides upon the validity of a testator's Will.
Probate interprets the instructions of the deceased, decides the executor of the Will and adjudicates in disputes between named heirs and any parties who may make claims against the Will.
All legal procedures associated with Probate are handled by the Family Division of the High Court of Justice and only the High Court is able to issue the documents necessary to undertake the financial transactions required to deal with a deceased party's Will.
These documents are known collectively as Grants of Representation.
Grants of Probate are issued where there is a valid Will whereas Grants of Authority are issued where there is no Will.
If an estate is valued at less than £5,000,000 or all assets are jointly owned and there is a surviving spouse to whom the entire estate can pass, a Grant is not usually required.Learn more
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