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In Scotland, a grant of Confirmation gives the representative of the dead person (the executor) the legal rights they need to organise, manage and administer the property, money and possessions left behind by the deceased (the estate). It is acquired by making an application, including all necessary paperwork, to the Sheriff Court.

This process can be complicated, particularly for those also dealing with bereavement. Although legal assistance in winding up an estate in Scotland is not mandatory, instructing an experienced and approachable solicitor can make things a little easier.

This guide to Confirmation is designed to offer some insight into what is involved in applying for Confirmation. If you would like to know more about how the process applies to your specific circumstances, please contact the executry and Confirmation experts at andersonbain. 

What is Confirmation?

Confirmation (known as probate in England & Wales) is the term used for when a representative of the deceased (the executor) is granted permission by the court to deal with the property owned by the deceased person (the estate).

Confirmation is a formal legal document that bestows legal rights on the executor over the deceased’s estate. This document can then be sent to organisations that hold money or property on behalf of the deceased. For example, it can be sent to banks, insurance companies or building societies so that money from accounts can be released or the ownership of stocks, shares or property transferred.

Is Confirmation necessary?

Confirmation is necessary because it’s proof that the executor is the representative of the dead person and is authorised to deal with the deceased’s affairs. How complex the process will be depends on the size of the estate and whether or not there is a Will (testate) or no Will (intestate). The process is often simpler where there is a Will and the estate is small. It can be much more complex for larger estates, particularly if there is no Will.

How do I apply for Confirmation?

Obtaining Confirmation involves making an application to the Sheriff Court, which must include a list (an inventory) of every item that forms part of the estate.

The inventory is often the most complex part of applying for Confirmation and involves, amongst other things:

  • Compiling a detailed list of every piece of property owned by the deceased at the time of their death;
  • Setting out a description of each item, such as bank account numbers or the addresses of property owned by the deceased;
  • Obtaining an up-to-date valuation of every individual item in the estate;
  • Working out whether inheritance tax is due on the estate.

Compiling the inventory can be a time-consuming process, particularly when the estate is quite large.

What happens next depends on whether or not there is a valid Will. If there is a Will, the application for Confirmation, relevant supporting documents and court fee can be sent to the local Sheriff Court. 

If there isn’t a Will, it will be necessary to follow an additional procedure before Confirmation can be granted. Where the estate is small, this involves obtaining an insurance policy, known as a bond of caution, protecting the estate in the event of any mistakes being made.

Where the estate is over a certain amount, it will be necessary to apply to the Court to be formally appointed as an executor (known as an executor dative). Once these preliminary steps have been taken, the local Sheriff Court can process the application for Confirmation. 

How long does Confirmation take?

Assuming that the documentation is correct, the Court will process the application as quickly as it can. Normally, Confirmation is granted within a few weeks( but if Inheritance Tax is involved then it can take significantly longer), so that the executor can begin the process of in-gathering the estate (collecting and processing all the assets).

How long it will take to wind up the estate after Confirmation has been granted is difficult to estimate, as the process varies significantly, depending upon the size and complexity of the assets involved. If the estate is small and uncomplicated then the process could be relatively straightforward. However, a larger estate can take up to a year to be wound up, and sometimes longer in more complicated cases.

Specialist Confirmation Lawyers in Aberdeen, Scotland

At andersonbain, we offer bespoke and personalised advice on applying for Confirmation. We understand that applying Confirmation can seem overwhelming during what is often a difficult time. Our solicitors have vast experience working in the executry sector, allowing us to provide every client with a swift and responsive service.

Whatever matter you may be facing in the winding up of an estate, our approachable, friendly and proactive team of Confirmation and executry solicitors are ready to provide expert legal supervision and support. If you live in Banchory, Aboyne, Ballater or the surrounding areas in Aberdeen, please fill out an online enquiry form to see how we can help or call us on 01224 456 789

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