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Dying Matters Week: Navigating loss and the legal process at the same time

By Louise Davis

Published In: Wills and Probate

Dying Matters Week aims to get people talking about death, loss of capacity and what happens after you die. It’s not a fun subject but it does offer a lot of opportunities to make sure your future and legacy are safeguarded.

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This week we’ve explained the value of a will and lasting powers of attorney and finally we’re demystifying the probate process. When a loved one passes away, navigating the legalities of their estate can feel overwhelming. That's why we're here to guide you through the probate process with clarity and empathy.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims, and distributing the person's property under a valid will. If there's no will, the process is the same but follows the laws of intestacy, which determines how assets are distributed.

Understanding the Steps

  1. Notification and inventory: The first step is to ascertain whether there is a will. Then once the death has been registered, to notify all financial institutions and understand the extent of the estate and the value of all assets and liabilities at date of death
  2. Appointment of executor/administrator: If there's a will, the executor named in the will takes charge. Otherwise, the rules of intestacy will determine who can deal with the estate and make an application to the probate registry
  3. If a Grant of Representation is needed to deal with assets held in the estate, an application is made to the probate registry.  If inheritance tax is payable - or if the estate is not classed as an excepted estate - a full account must be made to the HMRC using the IHT400
  4. Notification of creditors: Creditors are told of the death, allowing them to make claims against the estate for any outstanding debts
  5. Asset distribution: Once the debts and taxes are settled, remaining assets are distributed according to the will or intestacy laws
  6. Final Accounting: Final estate accounts should be prepared detailing all assets received into the estate, all liabilities paid and the division of the net estate to the entitled beneficiaries

 Navigating the challenges

Probate can be complex, especially when you’re grieving already and even more so if are unfamiliar with legal processes. Sometimes challenges come out of the process include disputes over the validity of the will, creditor claims, and family conflicts. However, with proper guidance and support, these challenges can be managed effectively.

Seeking legal assistance

While it's possible to navigate probate without legal assistance, it's best to consult with a probate solicitor. We can provide invaluable guidance, ensuring all legal requirements are met, and help resolve any issues.

Tips for simplifying the process

  1. Organise important documents: Keep all relevant documents, including the will, financial statements, and insurance policies, in a safe and accessible location
  2. Communicate openly: Keep beneficiaries informed throughout the process to minimise confusion and prevent misunderstandings
  3. Seek professional guidance: Don't hesitate to seek help from legal and financial professionals who specialise in estate planning and probate

Navigating probate can be daunting, but with the right support and understanding, it's manageable. During Dying Matters Week and beyond, let's continue to have open conversations about end-of-life planning and support each other through life's inevitable transitions.

Remember, you're not alone in this journey. Reach out to legal professionals, support groups, and loved ones for assistance and guidance. Together, we can navigate the probate process with compassion and clarity.

Got questions? Just give us a call on 0800 1380 458 drop us a line at or contact us through the website. Whenever you need us, we're here to help.


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Louise has worked in the legal sector for 28 years.  She’s a Specialist Legal Clerk in our Wills and Probate team.

Specialist Legal Clerk

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