At Odysseus Chambers our dedicated professionals have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area of probate law.
If you are the executor or administrator of the estate of a deceased person, you have a legal responsibility to ensure the estate is properly administered to those who are entitled to benefit. In order to execute your duties, you must receive a grant from the High Court of Justice which legally identifies your capacity and power to administer the estate.
The probate process is often a long and tedious one and after the loss of a loved one, we understand that this can be a difficult and emotional time. Our attorneys are focused on ensuring the process is completed as expeditiously and seamlessly as possible while providing support and guidance throughout.
Our attorneys can provide advice and legal services in all matters in connection with probate law namely:
Wills & Estate Planning
If a person dies without a will, certain laws require that the property be distributed in a certain manner. This may not have been the manner in which the deceased wanted their property to be distributed and it is therefore important that during a person’s lifetime, they plan for the future. It is advisable for persons with an estate, however big or small, to properly outline the manner in which they wish their estate to be distributed through the creation of a clear and unambiguous will. This also makes the probate process less difficult for loved ones as there is an appointed person to deal with the estate and there are clear instructions for the administration of the estate.
What is a will?
A will is a revocable, written expression of an intention from an individual referred to as a testator (male) or testatrix (female) upon their death. It conveys the intent of the testator/testatrix of how his assets are to be distributed upon his/her demise.
What makes a will valid?
- Formalities (governed by the legislative provisions)
- The will must be in writing;
- The will must be signed/marked by the testator/testatrix in the presence of witnesses; and
- The witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator/testatrix.
- Animus testandi – this is the mental capacity of the testator/testatrix to make the will. There must be knowledge and approval and no undue influence. If the testator/testatrix does not possess the necessary mental capacity at the time of making the will, the will is deemed invalid.
Applications for grant of probate, letters of administration, etc.
As stated above, when a person dies, having made a will or not, they must apply for and receive from the High Court of Justice a Grant authorizing them to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate and legally distribute the deceased’s property to those beneficially entitled. The types of grants that may be applied for are; a grant of probate, a letter of administration with will annexed, or a letter of administration. This can be a daunting process with several requirements and our attorneys are fully capable to assist our clients with the application.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a type of deed that legally empowers one person (donee) to act on behalf of another (donor) for general or specific purposes. Its primary purpose if to allow someone to carry on your business affairs when you are unable to do so. There are two types, a General Power of Attorney and a Special/Limited Power of Attorney. A General Power of Attorney may be created for the purposes of managing the general affairs of the donor such conducting all day to day and/or business affairs of the grantor. Alternatively, a Special or Limited Power of Attorney may be created to give the done limited authority to deal with a specific matter of the donor such as to apply for a Grant of Probate or the power to sell a specific property on behalf of the grantor. The Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time by a Deed of Revocation of a Power of Attorney or may be extinguished on the death or mental incapacity of the grantor.
A Deed Poll is another type of deed whereby an individual changes their name or declares the correct form and spelling of their name. It is quite often used where a person has had various forms of or errors made on important documents with respect to their name and they wish to abandon the various and incorrect forms and adopt and declare one particular form of their name. This is important to avoid confusion with respect to important documentation such as deeds, national identification and wills.