All You Need To Know About The Probate Process

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 there is no property or shares and the deceased left a bank or building society account with a value of under £5,000 then it may be that you might not need to follow the actual probate process and the bank or building society holding the money will release it direct to you.  Normally the bank will require you to sign a 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, the Act does allow banks to set their own limit so do check with the Bank or Building Society first.

Wills

If there is a Will then the initial probate process is fairly simple.  The Will appoints the executors and it will be their responsibility to protect the estate, by way of example, making sure that the buildings insurance stays on risk to protect any property.

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 how much – 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 on the family.  This will enable the solicitor to prepare a family tree and then advise who will be entitled to deal with the probate process.  If you need help with the probate process then please call us at Seatons on 01536 276300 for a free no-obligation chat.

Once it has been agreed who this person is and the person accepts the role then they have the same basic responsibility as an executor and will initially be responsible for protecting the estate.

Value Of The Estate

From now on the probate process is fairly similar in both scenarios.  Both must obtain up to date valuations in respect of the assets belonging to the death as well as details of all debts.

Inland Revenue

If the value is under £325,000 then HMRC will require an Inheritance Tax return to be submitted in form IHT207.

If the net value of the estate (the assets minus the liabilities) 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 Form IHT400.  If an IHT400 form is required then again 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 swear an Oath on the Bible in front of a solicitor or commissioner for oaths.  You will swear that you will administer the estate strictly according to law and hand up detailed accounts of the estate together with the original Grant if required by the Court.  If you do not wish to swear on the Bible then you can affirm.

Once sworn, if there is an IHT400 then any Inheritance Tax must be paid direct to HMRC and upon a receipt being issued, this is sent together with the relevant Oath and original Will (if there is one) to the Probate Court.

If the estate only needs an IHT207 then this is sent with the Oath direct to the Probate Court.

Grant

Approximately three 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 issues then the executor or administrator becomes the Personal Representative of the deceased (PR).  The PR can then apply to close any bank accounts, enter into a contract to sell property and basically act as the deceased would have done themselves.  The probate process requires you to pay any debts, notify pension companies and in certain circumstances, complete a final income tax return on behalf of the deceased.

Executors Account

If you have not already done so then you should open an executor’s account at a bank of your choice.  This will enable you to receive the monies due and make all necessary payments as required under the probate process.  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 should be prepared showing all assets, all liabilities and all expenses of the estate and the amount to be paid to each beneficiary.  Once all payments are made you 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 in the Will.

If there is no Will then payment or distribution is made 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.

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

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