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Who can see a Will after a person dies?

When a person dies, it can be a difficult and emotional time for all involved. However, there are also some practical matters that need to be dealt with such as locating the person’s Will to ensure their estate is managed how they wanted. But it’s important to note that not just anyone is entitled to access and read a persons Will.

In England and Wales, the executor(s) is the only one entitled to access a persons Will after their passing. The executor is responsible for administering the estate and is the only one entitled to read the Will and its contents. The executor is the person(s) named in the Will as being responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased. This person(s) would have been chosen when the Will was written. They are not legally required so provide copies of the Will to any beneficiaries, friends, or family of the deceased, but they can choose to do so.

The executor is the only one legally entitled to see the Will until probate has been granted. Once probate has been granted, the Will becomes a public document, and anyone can apply for a copy.

Applying for probate

After a person has passed away, the executor will need to apply for probate which is the legal process of proving a Will is valid. The executor will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate.

A Grant of Probate is a grant of representation issued to an executor named in a will. It gives legal permission for an executor to manage and distribute a deceased person’s property and assets.

Probate is not always required, further information on this can be found here.

What if there’s no will?

When there is no will a person is said to have died ‘intestate’. When someone dies intestate their personal representative is normally a family member who will inherit the most under the rules of intestacy.

Under the rules of intestacy, a surviving spouse or civil partner receives the first £250,000 of an estate plus half of the remainder. Any children receive what is left. Unmarried partners have no right to inherit under these rules.

A personal representative needs to apply to the local Probate Registry for Letters of Administration. Just like a Grant of Probate this document gives legal permission to manage and distribute an estate including closing bank accounts and selling property and shares.

A personal representative is the executor of a will who is responsible for estate administration. Where there is no will the personal representative is the estate administrator.

The probate process is quicker and more straightforward when there is a will. A will also ensures the right people inherit and they receive the maximum financial benefit. Planning assets ahead of time can reduce IHT and Capital Gains Tax.

How QualitySolicitors Large & Gibson can help

If you are a personal representative or an executor of someone’s Will, our specialist probate solicitors can guide you through every step of estate administration. Whether there is a Will or not, we make sure the process is as fast and straightforward as possible.

Our solicitors understand that managing a loved one’s estate is complex at an emotionally difficult time. We are here to relieve some of the stress by providing you with as much, or as little, help as you need.

We can work alongside you, offering advice when you need it. Alternatively, we can act as a professional executor by managing the entire process from start to finish.

To discuss how we can help, please contact us today on 02392 296 296.

Posted in: News, Wills

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