When a person passes away, then, if they have money or assets, it is necessary for the Court (Probate Division of the High Court) to appoint somebody to look after their estate. In the legal profession, this type of work is referred to as “Probate”. What it means is that we assist the next of kin and beneficiaries of a deceased person, in order to legally wrap up the deceased’s assets and expenses.
Under our law, somebody (on their own or with others), must look after the affairs of the person that has passed away. This “somebody” is known as the “Executor” where there is a Will involved: or “the Administrator”, where there is no Will; or the generic term covering either is a “Personal Representative”. Rather than confusing you with legal language, lets just say that the responsibility of this person is to pay all the funeral expenses, and administer the Estate of the person, that has passed away, in accordance with that person’s Will, or where there is no Will in accordance with Succession Law and, generally, in accordance with the Laws of the land eg tax laws.
In order for the Executor/Administrator, to deal with deceased’s property, they must be appointed by the High Court. In most cases, this merely involves the Solicitors’ firm making the application in Court that the person be so appointed. There is no need for the person to attend Court. In order to be appointed by the Court, there is a process involved.
To briefly explain the process, it is as follows:- we write to all financial institutions and/or get valuations of property. We write to each beneficiary and ask them to complete a short form. When all replies are received back (and in this regard, if someone delays in replying then we are all delayed), we complete a host of forms and affidavits. On the proposed personal representative’s behalf, we then apply to have the Personal Representative officially appointed by the High Court. The High Court will issue us with a formal document appointing them (this document is called “probate” or “grant of probate” or “grant of representation”).
It is at this stage in the process that this document allows (on behalf of the personal representative) the assets be sold and/or assets cashed in and/or property put into beneficiaries names. Then, distribution can take place to the beneficiaries. The process can take on average 12 months.
We have been doing this area of work for over 75 years and believe we have a speciality in it when compared to other solicitors.