When a person dies somebody will need to deal with their property, money, shares, investments and possessions (known as their estate). This is called ‘administering the estate’
The term ‘probate’ means to prove and it is a legal document issued by the probate registry to authorise a person/s to deal with an estate.
The basic process for administering an estate is (but not limited to)
- Check and validate you have the last will and testament – this determines who is authorised to administer the estate (known as executors). If there is no will or it is invalid, then you need to administer the estate under the intestacy laws (legal family tree which dictates who is authorised to administer and who receives the estate).
- Pay the inheritance tax if any is due
- Apply for the grant of probate – this gives you the legal right to access accounts etc
- Collect the assets (depending what the wills wishes are as sometimes these can be transferred) e.g. closing bank accounts, shares, investments, NSI and selling property.
- Dealing with all personal possessions
- Understanding and paying all the debts
- Setting up any required trusts
- Dealing with the required government departments
- Distributing the estate – paying out the entitlement to the beneficiaries.
Is probate always required
Although it is estimated over 300,000 families will have to take the estate to probate it is not required in every estate.
It is not normally required
If the estate is under £5,000
If the assets are held joint as there is a process known as rules survivorship.
If there has been trusts correctly set up that ensure the avoidance of probate
It is always important to ask the financial organisation that is holding the money (e.g. bank / building society) as early in the process as possible to see if they require probate. They may just accept the death certificate / their own internal validation process.
Can I do it myself?
Although administering an estate is something you can do yourself it is always worth considering the following: do I have the time, do I have the inclination to do this and do I have the sufficient understanding / knowledge of what I have to do. If the answer is yes then absolutely.
However for many the prospect of administering the estate especially whilst dealing with the grieving process can sometimes be too much and they do not want the burden or stress which is why they employ a professional to complete the work for them.
What can you expect from an expert like ourselves?
We will look to take the probate grant out in our name
Deal with all legal matters including any potential claims against the estate.
Deal with HMRC regarding inheritance tax, capital gains tax and income tax
Deal with all connections such as mortgage, savings, pensions, employment, insurance and property to name just a few.
Ability to search for the debts, assets and if needed missing beneficiaries to ensure full accuracy.
Distribute to the beneficiaries
Prepare final accounts
Frequently asked questions
What is an Executor?
An executor is the person who has the legal right to deal with property, money and possessions (estate) of the person who has died. They are also liable for any mistakes made within the administration of the estate.
Can I refuse to act as an Executor?
Yes you can, this is known as renouncing. The process of administering the estate will then go to the joint executor (if there is one) / reserve executor (if there is one) or the residual beneficiary.
How much will it cost ?
No two estates are the same but we charge a fixed fee and you can obtain this with no obligation. Some organisations will charge an hourly rate and some may charge a % of the estate both of which can become very costly.
Can I change the outcome of the will?
Yes to certain agreed terms, it is possible to do this within 2 years and is known as an instrument / deed of variation.
When do I have to pay the Inheritance tax (IHT)?
IHT is due within six months from the date of the person’s passing. In some cases you are allowed to apply to pay in instalments. You must pay the IHT before you can obtain the grant of probate.