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The Eric Whitehead Partnership

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PROBATE MYTHS

There are a number of myths in circulation surrounding the Probate process and the purpose of this update is to put some of those myths to bed.

Myth #1 – Probate only takes a few weeks to deal with

Nothing could be further from the truth, particularly at the moment! In most cases, it will be several weeks or even months before sufficient information has been collected in order to be in a position to apply for the Grant of Probate. Once the Grant has been obtained it can often take a long time for assets to be collected in and sold and there may be claims against the Estate or tax issues to deal with. Further, there are currently VERY long delays at the Probate Registry. As a result, it is not unusual for the whole process to take up to a year and longer in some instances.

Myth #2 – A “reading of the Will” takes place

This is a common misconception. Such a practice may take place in films and TV programmes, but not in reality!

Myth #3 – If a Will exists then there is no need to apply for Probate

This is not always the case. The only occasions on which a Grant of Probate will not be required would be where, for example, a spouse has died leaving all of their Estate to the surviving spouse and all of their assets (for example, house, bank accounts and so forth) were held jointly or where someone dies without assets of any significant value (for example, no house and a bank account with a small balance). In most other cases a Grant of Probate will be required.

Myth #4 – A Will can be contested by anyone and for any reason

This is not true. There are only certain circumstances in which a Will can be contested via a Probate claim. The main circumstances are a lack of validity, a lack of mental capacity and undue influence. Such claims are difficult to bring and win and are costly. It is also possible for certain very limited individuals (normally family members) to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. These claims are also difficult to bring and can be very costly.

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