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The Probate Process

When someone close to us dies the grief can be all-consuming.
When you are also the person responsible for dealing with the affairs or
administration of the estate of the person who has died, the responsibility can be overwhelming.
Please call us for a free initial no obligation chat on 0800 3 10 11 12

Welcome to our page explaining the probate process. We at Seatons Solicitors are a firm, who specialise in dealing with probate and estate administration. At Seatons, we offer a helpful and friendly service with low fees that provide exceptional value for money.  Please call us today for a free no obligation initial chat on 01536 276300 or contact us online.

The Probate Process

When a loved one close to us dies,the grief can be all-consuming. When you are also the person responsible for dealing with the affairs or administration of a loved one’s estate, the responsibility can be overwhelming.

The “probate process”,is a phrase that summarises how a loved ones estate is administered. The probate process will depend first of all depend of the value of the estate and secondly if the deceased left a will or not.

Small Estates

If the overall value of the estate is under £20,000 you might not need to apply for a grant of probate and you should be able to obtain the release of most of the assets without too much difficulty. Small estates can usually be transferred without too much difficulty.

If you are dealing with a bank or building society they will typically require you to provide a death certificate, a copy of the will (if applicable), and complete and sign a closure form or statutory declarations.

Although the administration of Estates (Small Payments) Act 1965 sets out a threshold of only £5000, almost every bank or building society and financial institution will set their own limit to determine the point at which they will voluntarily release assets without a grant of representation (grant of probate if there is a will or grant of letter of administration if there is no will) needing to produced.

Many high street banks and lenders will release assets as long as they do not exceed £20,000, but this can vary and so it is important to check this with the relevant financial institution first.

Jointly Held Assets

Another situation in which a grant of representation ( grant of probate if there is a Will or grant of letter of administration if there is no Will) is if the deceased held all their assets jointly with another person. In this case, at the death of the deceased as one of joint owners, the assets will pass on to the surviving owner automatically, irrespective of the deceased’s Will or any Intestacy Rules. This is known as the rule of ‘Survivorship’.

Wills

If there is a will then the initial process is usually fairly simple. The Will appoints Executors who are the persons responsible for administering the estate including collecting in the assets, paying off any debts and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.

In most circumstances,where the value of the estate is in excess of £20,000 , the first step would be to apply for a Grant of Probate from the court, which confirms legal authority of the Executors named in the Will for them to administer the estate. This involves submitting to the Probate Registry a formal statement, the appropriate Inheritance Tax  form, the original will and death certificate, as well as paying the applicable probate registry fees.

No Will – Intestacy

If there is no Will then the probate process becomes more complicated,the law will deal with the probate process and administrates the estate.

When someone dies without a Will they are said to have died ‘intestate’. In these circumstances, the Administration of Estates Act 1925 sets out who can administer the estate, who inherits the estate and in what proportions – these are known as the Intestacy Rules.

One of the deceased’s relatives will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, which is a similar process to that of applying for a Grant of Probate, but again requires a statement to be completed and a HM revenue and customs form submitted.

However in this situation, it may be advisable to seek legal advice. You will be required to ascertain information about the deceased’s family (including a family tree), and then work out who will be entitled to deal with the probate process (and be the administrator) and ultimately who will benefit from the estate.

Once it has been agreed who this is and the person accepts the role as the administrator, they have same basic responsibility to administer the estate, as an executor would and will be responsible for protecting, administrating and distributing the estate.

If you need help with the probate process the please call us at Seatons on 01536 276300 for a free initial no obligation chat.

Value Of The Estate

Whether the deceased has left a will or not, you will need to obtain up-to-date of  valuations in respect of the deceased’s assets(valued at the date of death) as well as full details of all liabilities and debts that the deceased held.

HM Revenue and Customs

If it is necessary to obtain a grant of representation to the deceased’s estate (a Grant of Probate if there is a will, or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there is no will) ,you will need to submit to the HM revenue and customs (HMRC) a tax form providing details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities and the net value of the deceased’s estate.

Generally, if there is no Inheritance tax to pay on the deceased’s estate (usually if the value of the deceased’s estate is under £325,000) then the HMRC will require an Inheritance Tax return to be submitted through the IHT205 form.However, there are various other circumstances that apply that determine whether an IHT207 inheritance tax form is appropriate.

Generally, if there is Inheritance tax to pay on the deceased’s estate (usually if the net value of the deceased’s estate is in excess of £325,000 for a single person ) then the HMRC will require a more detailed tax form called an IHT400 with accompanying schedules. Since the IHT400 form requires more information and detail than the IHT205 and we would recommend the legal advice is sought if an IHT400 form needs to be submitted.

We at Seatons will happily help you with the probate process. Please call us on 01536 276300 for a free initial no obligation chat.

Statement

If you need a grant of probate (if there is a will) or a grant of letter of administration(if there is no will) then the probate process requires you to either sign a statement,which states that he information you have provided is true to the best of your knowledge.

Once the statement is signed, if there is an IHT400, then any inheritance Tax must be paid directly to the HMRC. Once a tax receipt has been issued, it is sent with the relevant documents listed above to the Probate Court.

Grant of Representation

A few weeks later the Probate Court will issue a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no Will).

Once the Grant has been issued, the executor or administrator becomes the Personal Representative of the deceased (PR). The PR can then arrange for the deceased’s assets to be collected in, apply to close any bank accounts, claim pensions, life insurance policies, sell property and basically act as the deceased would have done themselves. Also the funeral account and all debts and liabilities can the be paid off.

Executor’s Account

Sometimes an executor or administrator may wish to open an Executor’s Account at a bank of their choice. This will enable the executor or administrator to have a separate account to pay in any monies received, make all necessary payments to liabilities as required under the probate process and eventually distribute the estate to the beneficiaries. If you have instructed solicitors there is no need to open an executors account as the solicitor will deal with this for you.

Estate Accounts

Once all monies are collected in and debts paid in full, the Personal Representative will be required to prepare Estate Accounts providing a breakdown of all of the deceased’s assets that have been collected in and of all the liabilities and expenses of the estate that have been paid. The PR must then provide details of how the estate is to be distributed between each beneficiary.

In making payments to the beneficiaries the probate process differs depending on whether there is a Will or not. If there is a Will, then payment or distribution is made as detailed and provided for in the deceased’s Will.If there is no Will then payment or distribution is made to the beneficiaries according to the Intestacy Rules.

In both cases, the Personal Representative of the Estate will be entrusted with significant responsibilities during the Probate process and will be held personally responsible for any errors that are made. For this reason, many choose to instruct specialist Probate Solicitors,(such as ourselves) to deal with all the legal matters, and gain the peace of mind that the matter is being dealt with by experienced legal professionals.

The above is a brief summary detailing the main probate process and is intended as a guide only. For more information or help with the probate process then please telephone us on 01536 276300 for a free initial no obligation chat or email adrian@seatons.co.uk for more information and quote “probate process”.

Adrian Chambers - Seatons Solicitors

Probate & Estate Specialists

I’m Adrian Chambers and I specialise in Probate and Estate matters. We at Seatons are known as the friendly professionals, we aim to provide clients with an outstanding legal service.

We will help and support you and most importantly we work hard for you.

If you need help in obtaining probate and/or administering a loved one’s estate, please click here for further information.

Please contact me for a free initial no obligation chat on 01536 276300 or contact me online.

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