Probate Without a Will Guide 2021

In England and Wales,  Probate is often needed to deal with the property, money, and possessions (called the assets) of a deceased person. Some people die leaving a Will, but some don’t write a Will for various reasons. The overarching name for Probate whether or not there is a Will is the ‘Grant of Representation’; however, it is called a ‘Grant of ‘Probate’ when there is a Will and ‘Letters of Administration’ when there is no Will. Here we will often simply refer to it as ‘Probate.’

Can you apply for Probate without a Will?

You can apply for a Probate without a Will. The Grant is called the Letter of Administration when there is no will. The process of obtaining the Grant is commonly referred to as “going through probate” irrespective of whether they left a Will.

What is Probate without a Will?

Probate without a Will is actually called the Letters of Administration. A Letter of Administration is issued only to a next of kin (as defined by the ‘Rules of ‘Intestacy’) or an administrator that can administer the deceased’s assets on behalf of beneficiaries.

When there is no Will, the law will determine who the beneficiaries are and appoint an administrator to administer the estate. Administrating an estate can be a daunting task as it involves a lot of work. Some of the main tasks include:

  • Applying for a Letter of Administration from the Probate Registry
  • Calculating the value of deceased assets
  • Calculating and paying inheritance tax, income tax, and capital gains tax
  • Selling or transferring the assets
  • Contacting the beneficiaries
  • Settling the outstanding debts of the deceased person
  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries

Who is the next of kin when someone dies?

When someone dies intestate (.i.e., dies without leaving a Will), the law determines the administrator and the beneficiaries of the deceased assets.

There is a defined order of next of kin relationships to determine how the estate is shared out, and this is known as the ‘Rules of ‘Intestacy’.

The law defines spouses and civil partners as the initial next of kin when someone dies intestate. This includes married couples that are separated but not divorced. The spouse /civil partner inherits the deceased’s personal belongings and all of their assets unless they have children, in which case the spouse / civil partners inherit the first £270,000 of their estate, and a half share of any further wealth in the estate (with the other half going to the children)

Children and grandchildren are next in line of ‘next of kin.’

Surviving long-term life partners who are not married or have a civil partnership are not recognised as “next of kin.” They can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy. In-laws are also not recognised as “next of kin.”

For the complete list of entitled inheritors or next of kin, read here.

How to get Probate without a Will

To get Probate without a Will, you have to apply for a Probate. The application process is the same whether you have a Will or not. You can apply for the Probate online or by post. If the person died intestate and you are the ”administrator,’ you will typically receive the Letter of Administration within 4 to 8 weeks after applying. Once you have this, you can start dealing with the ‘deceased’s assets.

How to apply for Probate without a Will

You can apply for a Probate online or by post. The easiest way is to pay a solicitor or a probate specialist to do it for you. But, you can apply for the Probate yourself.

We offer Probate services for DIY support, Probate only, and full estate administration.

To apply for a Probate without a Will, you need to be the deceased’s inheritor (or next of kin / administrator as defined above). You should be at least 18 years old to apply for a Probate. If you are not 18, additional rules apply. If you don’t want to be the administrator, you can nominate someone else via ‘Power of ‘Attorney’.

Before applying, you need to check if you need a Probate. In some circumstances, you don’t have to apply for Probate. Then check if you are eligible to apply for  Probate. Before applying, you should estimate and report the estate value to check the type of application required and whether inheritance tax will be due. You should have the original death certificate or an interim death certificate from the coroner.

If you have all the documents needed, you can apply for Probate online, by post, or through a solicitor or Probate practitioner. When you hire a solicitor or Probate practitioner, they will do all the required steps and apply on your behalf.

How long does Probate take without a Will

Obtaining the Grant itself should only take 4-8 weeks. Administering the Estate however takes approximately 6 to 12 months to complete depending on the number and type of assets in the Estate. If the deceased has had several properties, selling them and distributing the money among the beneficiaries could take even longer.

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