Financial planning

Probate: understanding jargon

Shona Lowe

Dealing with death can be extremely difficult and everyone deals with these things in their own way.


The same can be said for the often overwhelming process of handling the estate of a deceased loved one. Many of our clients choose to instruct our specialist 1825 Probate team to handle investigating and ingathering the deceased’s assets, settling any liabilities, preparing and submitting the necessary legal and tax reporting paperwork, and distributing the estate amongst the beneficiaries. Others prefer to administer the estate themselves with our support.

In either case, the last thing any friend or relative needs is for the process to be made worse by distracting terminology or jargon. We’ve put together a list of the common terms that often come up during the Probate process:

What you inherit

Estate

A person’s estate includes everything they own and everything that’s registered in their name at the date of their death. There are exceptions, such as pensions, which aren’t normally included.

Chattels

Personal belongings such as cars, televisions, furniture, etc. Chattels do not include assets used for business purposes.

The process

Probate

The legal process of dealing with someone’s estate after they have died. This is known as Estate Administration in Scotland.

Rules of Intestacy

The Rules of Intestacy apply when someone dies without a valid Will in place. They dictate who will benefit from the deceased person’s estate and how they will benefit.

Grant of Probate

Depending on the value of the estate, you may need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This is an official document which gives authority to the executors to administer the estate. In Scotland, this is called a Grant of Confirmation.

Grant of Letters of Administration

In cases where there is no valid Will, and the deceased lived in England and Wales at the date of their death, the administrator must apply for Letters of Administration. Once this has been granted, the administrator will be able to begin the process of estate administration.

People involved

Executor

The person or persons named in a Will who are responsible for ensuring that the deceased’s wishes, as set out in their Will, are followed. They can also be called the personal representative.

Administrator

The person responsible for administering and distributing the estate of a person who has died in England and Wales and without a valid Will.

Beneficiary

A person, trust or charity who receives a share of the deceased’s estate.  Having a Will is very important as it allows the deceased person to choose their own beneficiaries and ensure that as much as possible passes to them. If there isn’t a Will, a set of laws called the Rules of Intestacy will determine who the beneficiaries are. This may not always align with the wishes of the deceased.

Seeking professional advice

Whether you find yourself in the position of administering an estate of a loved one, or simply want to plan ahead so that things are as easy as possible for your own loved ones by having a professionally drafted Will in place, seeking expert advice and support could ensure that things are properly taken care of at an otherwise difficult and emotional time.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything you have read here, one of our specialists would be happy to help. Simply book your free initial consultation today.