All You Need To Know About 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.

The “probate process” as it is known will depend first of all on the value of the estate and secondly if the deceased left a Will or not.

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Welcome to our page explaining the probate process.  We are a firm who specialise in dealing with probate and estate administration work.  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 chat on 01536 276300 or contact us online.

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.

The “probate process” as it is known will depend first of all on the value of the estate and secondly if the deceased left a Will or not.

Small Estates

If the overall value of the deceased’s estate is under £5,000 then it may be that you might not need to follow the actual probate process and you should be able to obtain the release of the assets without too much difficulty.  If you are dealing with a bank or building society they will require you to complete and sign a Closure form or Statutory Declaration.  Although under the Small Payments Act 1965 the level at which the probate process is needed is assets over and above £5,000, almost every bank, building society and other various financial institutions will set their own limits to determine at what point they will voluntarily release assets without a grant of probate needing to be produced so do check with the Bank or Building Society or other financial institution first.

Wills

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

No Will - Intestacy

If there is no Will then the probate process becomes more complicated – who will deal with the probate process and who gets what?

When you die without a Will you are said to have died intestate and when this happens the law under the Administration of Estates Act 1925 lays down who can administer the estate, who inherits and in what proportions – these are known as the Intestacy Rules.

At this point it may be advisable to seek legal advice and you will be required to provide the solicitor with information about the deceased’s family.  This will enable the solicitor to prepare a family tree and then advise 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 person is and the person accepts the role as the administrator then they have the same basic responsibility as an executor would and will initially be responsible for protecting the estate.

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

Value Of The Estate

Whether the deceased has left a will or not, from now on the probate process is fairly similar in both scenarios.  In every case you need to obtain up to date 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.

Inland Revenue

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) then it will be necessary to submit to the Inland Revenue 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 HMRC (Inland Revenue) will require an Inheritance Tax return to be submitted in form IHT207. However there are various other circumstances that apply that determine whether a IHT 205 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 over £325,000 for a single person or £650,000 for the widow, widower or surviving civil partner of the deceased) then HMRC will require a more detailed tax form called an IHT400 with accompanying schedules.  If an IHT400 form is required then again we would recommend that legal advice is recommended.  We at Seatons will happily help you with the probate process.  Please call us on 01536 276300 for a free no-obligation chat.

Oath

The probate process requires you to either sign a statement or sometimes to swear an Oath on the Bible in front of a solicitor or commissioner for oaths.

Once the statement is signed (or the oath sworn) if there is an IHT 400 then any Inheritance Tax must be paid direct to HMRC and once a receipt has been  being issued, the tax receipt is sent together with the relevant Statement or Oath and original Will (if there is one) and Inland Revenue IHT form to the Probate Court.

Grant

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 either Grant has been issued then 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  including applying to close any bank accounts, cliaming pensions, lie insurance policies and so on, enter into a contract to sell property and basically act as the deceased would have done themselves.

Executors Account

Sometimes an executor or administrator can open an executor’s account at a bank of their choice.  This will enable the executor or administrator to collect in monies due and make all necessary payments to liabilities as required under the probate process and eventually distribute the estate to the beneficairies.  If you have instructed solicitors then they will deal with this for you.

Estate Accounts

Once all monies are collected in and debts paid in full, detailed estate accounts providing a breakdown of all of the deceased assets that have been collected in and of all liabilities and all expenses of the estate that have been paid and then providing details of how the estate is to be distributed between each beneficiary.  Once all payments are made then the executor or administrator should be left with a nil balance in the executor’s accounts.

In making payments to the beneficiaries here the probate process differs.  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.

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 01536 276300 for a free no-obligation chat or email adrian@seatons.co.uk for more information and quote “probate process”.

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Adrian Chambers - Seatons Solicitors

Probate & Estate Specialists

I’m Adrian Chambers and specialise in Probate and Estate matters. We aim to provide our clients with an outstanding legal service.

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

If you need help administering a loved one’s estate, please click here for further information.

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Please contact us for a free, no obligation chat on 01536 276300 or contact us online.

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