Probate gives a named individual in a Will the legal authority to deal with the assets of someone who has died. Without this legal green light, the executor cannot do anything with the deceased’s assets. 

In reality, this could mean that the deceased person’s house cannot be sold or any other possessions or money accessed or transferred to the beneficiaries in the Will. 

Until probate is granted by the courts, all the assets of the deceased person are frozen. There are, however, some cases where probate is not required because the value of the estate is low and everything is left to the person’s spouse. 

Although in England and Wales, there is no time limit on applying for probate, it’s in everyone’s interest to apply as soon as possible, especially as a grant of probate could take several months if there are no legal complications. Also, if the estate left in the Will is large enough to be liable for Inheritance Tax, this will have a strict time limit because it must be paid within six months of a person’s death, regardless of what stage you have reached with probate.

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