How does the Probate Process work: A Beneficiary’s Guide
Posted on 28th December 2023 at 14:17
If a loved one has recently passed away, you may wonder what to expect as a beneficiary in the estate. Many beneficiaries question how the probate process works once a loved one has passed away and if they are to receive something, how this would work.
What am I entitled to in terms of documentation and information?
Often beneficiaries ask to see a copy of the Will, however, it is up to the executor to decide whether or not to disclose it. It is common practice to show a copy to residuary beneficiaries.
Once the grant of probate has been granted, the Will becomes a public document and can be obtained from the Probate Registry by anyone who requests a copy.
Only residuary beneficiaries are entitled to see a copy of the estate accounts which detail the full settlement of all the estate assets and liabilities, including executors’ expenses.
How long will the process take?
Probate typically takes 9-12 months to complete. However, it can sometimes take longer if there is a property to sell or the estate contains complexities such as inheritance tax affairs.
What will I be expected to provide in order to obtain my legacy/share?
As a beneficiary, you will be required to provide two forms of original or certified identification to prove your identity and address.
If you are due to receive a pecuniary (monetary) gift or share of the residue, you will also need to provide a bank statement dated within the last three months showing your bank, name, address, account name, account number and sort code if you require a bank transfer.
Is there a will reading?
Contrary to popular belief, Will readings are not a common procedure. Most beneficiaries are informed of their entitlements through legal professionals or executors of the estate, and the Will is typically submitted to probate without a formal reading.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process of validating a Will and administering the wishes of the deceased. It involves identifying and collecting in assets, settling debts, and distributing the remaining estate to the named beneficiaries.
It is also an umbrella term that refers to the document obtained to legally administer the estate.
When should I be notified?
Beneficiaries have a right to be notified that they are entitled to an inheritance from an estate. It is the executor’s discretion as to when they decide is an appropriate time to inform the beneficiaries.
Often executors will inform beneficiaries at the outset of the administration of the estate. This allows the executor to prepare them for the administration process and answer any queries about the terms of the Will. It can also help to prevent claims against the estate, or to prepare for claims.
However, executors have what is called ‘the executor’s year’ and it may be in some complex estate, beneficiaries are not notified until after probate is obtained and any inheritance tax is paid.
What categories of beneficiary are there?
The most common types of beneficiaries are legatees and residuary beneficiaries. Legatees are beneficiaries who have been left a specific item or a specific sum of money in a Will.
The second is known as a residuary beneficiary. This is someone who has been left the entire or a percentage of what is left in the estate after all debts, expenses and legacies have been settled.
What costs might I incur as a beneficiary?
As a beneficiary, you may incur fees if you wish to receive your gift or share of the estate by way of bank transfer. Any bank transfer fee will be deducted from the amount you are due to receive from the estate.
If you are a beneficiary who does not live locally, you may have to pay to have your identification certified by a professional and pay postage to send your certified identification to the solicitor administering the estate.
If you have been left a specific item, depending on the terms of the Will, you may need to pay for packing and transportation of the item.
What if I don’t want to receive my interest or want to redirect it?
If you wish to rearrange or redirect your interest in an estate, you may decide to sign a deed of variation. This is a legal document which can be prepared allowing a beneficiary to transfer some or all of the interest they have inherited to another beneficiary. A deed of variation allows the original beneficiary to control the redirection of all or part of their interest in the estate and decide who is to benefit from it. This should be done within 2 years of the date of death.
You also have the option to refuse your interest in the estate absolutely and disclaim it, provided that you have not accepted any benefit from it before disclaiming it. However, if you choose to disclaim your interest, you have no control over who should receive the benefit in your place. You must also disclaim the whole interest, not just part of it, unless the Will specifically allows for partial disclaimers.
Avery Walters can assist with the administration of estate, grant only applications and other ad hoc estate matters.
At Avery Walters our team of specialists can also provide advice about Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts and more.
Contact us on 0113 2007480 or email us at email@example.com to arrange your free initial, no-obligation consultation with a specialist.
Tagged as: Probate
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