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Probate and Estate Administration | Probate and Estate Administration Guide
 

What is applying for a Grant of Probate?

It is the process of proving the validity of the last Will of the deceased at the Probate Registry of the Court. If there is no last Will the application is not called ‘Probate’ but instead the process is the application for ‘Letters of Administration’. The Court will issue a ‘Grant’ to the Executor or Administrator to confirm authority on them to administer the Estate under the terms of the Will (or Rules of Intestacy).

When will I have to apply for Probate?

Probate will generally be required only if the estate assets of the deceased exceeds a certain amount (usually £15,000 – it depends on what specific assets are held). You should check with us first as to whether Probate is required and what assets will be deemed to be included within the deceased’s estate.

What is involved in applying for Probate?

Primarily obtaining valuations of Estate assets and liabilities using date of death valuations, completing an Oath drawn up by a Solicitor and preparing an Inheritance Tax (IHT) account to HMRC. There are two main types of IHT account used depending on the size of the deceased’s estate.

How we can assist?

The administration of the Estate of a person who has died can be a time consuming and complex matter. The Executors have a duty to administer the Estate in an entirely correct manner. It is our job to make sure that the Executors undertake their duties properly and fully. Legal knowledge is often required to complete the IHT forms and the Probate application. By using a Solicitor to prepare the paperwork a personal appearance at the Court is avoided. Our knowledge and experience can ease the burden from the deceased's family and friends at what is inevitably a difficult time. We can also offer much practical advice to the bereaved. We will advise the Executors regarding Inheritance Tax, the availability of Tax Relief and generally deal with HMRC on the Executors' behalf in connection with all taxation matters.

In certain circumstances it may appropriate to vary a Will after someone's death to achieve the most tax efficient distribution of the assets in the estate. We will advise the Executors as necessary and prepare the Deed of Variation.

No Will = Intestacy

Where there is no Will, the estate of the deceased will pass to the deceased’s heirs in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. The heirs of the deceased will be able to apply to the Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration (similar to a Grant of Probate) to enable them to administer the Estate. The Intestacy Rules set out Rules on who can deal with the administration of the Estate, who inherits and how much of the Estate they inherit. We will advise you on these Rules and how to administer such an Estate. Once we have obtained the Grant of Letters of Administration, administration of an Intestate's Estate is broadly the same as where a Will has been left, although the assets will of course be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.

Am I entitled to obtain the Grant of Probate or obtain Letters of Administration?

The Executors of the Will are entitled to obtain the Grant of Probate and the next of kin are generally entitled to obtain the Grant of Letters of Administration where there is no Will. There are rules which govern who may be given a Grant, and whether or not one is required may depend on the circumstances in a case. We will be happy to advise you on who is able to apply for Probate.

When more than one person is entitled to a Grant you may all obtain a Grant together, however there is a maximum of four applicants allowed.

What about paying Inheritance Tax?

If Inheritance Tax (IHT) is payable, you cannot obtain the Grant until you have paid the relevant amount of IHT. We can advise you on paying IHT by yearly instalments to reduce the initial burden on the estate. Inheritance Tax has to be paid on higher value estates, and a complex IHT account completed. We are specialists in completing these accounts, and on giving advice as to when IHT savings can be made by varying the distribution of an Estate.

Income Tax Requirements

Usually it is necessary to close off the Income Tax records for the deceased up to and including the date of death. Filing additional Income Tax returns for previous Income tax years and for the Estate administration period may also be required. We usually prepare all the relevant Estate Income Tax returns and we often assist and advise the beneficiaries on Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax regarding property assets being received by them.

Costs

Costs are nearly always paid out of the Estate of the deceased. In all cases a Court fee has to be paid on the application for the Grant. Regarding legal fees, we suggest you meet initially with our specialist Probate solicitor Robert Cartmell to discuss what work is required to be undertaken. We offer a flexible service which can include fixed fees for specific items of work undertaken, or fees that link to the value of the Estate. In most cases costs are agreed on the basis of the work and time required to be spent on the matter as it is usually the fairest approach for all parties.

To arrange an appointment to discuss with our specialist lawyers, please contact our Private Client Department secretary Jan Lawrence.

Telephone: 01296 620443
Email: jan@dc-kaye.co.uk