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What is Probate?
Probate occurs upon someones death. If they left a will, probate is Court Order that gives the executors of the will the right to distribute the assets and property of the person who has died. For example, a bank (unless it is a small amount) won’t release funds or allow the executor to close the account without sight of the probate.
What if there isn’t a will?
If the deceased died without making a will, their estate is distributed under the law of intestacy. There is a strict order of entitlement and usually the next of kin (unless you are not married) benefits the most.
You will still need a Court Order but this is known as Letters of Administration. It is applied for in the same way as probate.
Do you have to get probate?
In some circumstances, you will not need to apply for probate. If the deceased left a small amount of assets (usually under £5,000) or everything they owned was in joint names, it is unlikely that probate will be required.
How do you apply for probate?
The application to obtain probate is made to the Probate Registry. The application is an oath which needs to be sworn in front of a solicitor to confirm that the contents are true. The oath and original will are then sent to the Probate Registry. It will then take (unless there is some form of objection to the will) approximately 2 – 3 weeks for the application to be completed.
The Probate Registry do charge a fixed fee of £45.00 (as of May 2013) to process the application. You will be charged by the solicitor that swears the oath. These fees are deductible as expenses of the estate.
A form will also need to be completed in regard to inheritance tax. It should be submitted at the same time as probate (even if no inheritance tax is payable) as the Probate Registry will not release the probate until they have received this form.
Should all of the executor apply or probate?
Not all of the executors have to apply for the probate. If an executor wishes to stand down and not have any involvement in the process, that is fine unless they have already had involvement up to that point. If they have taken any part in the administration then they cannot then stand down.
Will I have to pay inheritance tax?
When inheritance tax is calculated, the following factors are taken into consideration:
– All the assets (minus liabilities) which the deceased owned at the date of death. This includes bank accounts, property, business, life insurance and personal belongings.
– Assets that the deceased owned abroad, unless they were non-UK domiciled.
– The deceased’s share of any jointly owned assets.
– The value of some trust funds in which the deceased was entitled to receive the income.
– The value of any assets which the deceased has given away within 7 years of the date of his death.
If the above equates to more than the current threshold (£325,000 as of May 2013) then inheritance tax is payable at a rate of 40% of the amount over the threshold. There are exemptions and reliefs that reduce the inheritance tax. It is a complicated matter, and if applicable to your circumstances, we can discuss further with you.
How long does it take to administer the estate?
It is difficult to give a precise answer on this, as it varies from one estate to another; sometimes it can take 3 months or at others, up to 12 months. Usually, it depends on how complicated the estate is and the number of assets owned. Once we have taken details of your circumstances, we can provide a more approximate time scale.
How much does it cost to administer the estate?
Again, the cost of the probate depends entirely on the complexity of your circumstances. Usually, solicitors’ fees for administering probate is claimed from the estate. Contact us to get a bespoke quote.
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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