Probate – The Process

What is Probate?

“Probate” is the process of administering a deceased person’s estate whereby someone acts on behalf of the deceased to collect in any money or assets, pay any debts and liabilities and then distribute in accordance with any Will or, if not, the rules of intestacy. Sometimes assets cannot be collected in without a court order, known as a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no Will and therefore intestacy rules apply). Where there is a Will, the named executor(s) will be responsible for dealing with the estate of the deceased and where someone dies without a Will there is a strict order of priority as to who can deal with the estate and take out the Letters of Administration.

A Grant of Probate is required if there are significant assets that need collecting in or if a property was in the sole name of the deceased. If an estate is limited, then it may not be necessary to obtain a Grant. This is generally where there is no property in the sole name of the deceased and, as a rule of thumb, where there is less than £25,000 in any one bank. Each bank has its own rules however.

The process

• First, all assets and liabilities need to be identified – property, investments, possessions through to debts.
• To obtain a Grant an application must be submitted to the Probate Registry. This will confirm who has the legal authority to administer the estate.
• If inheritance tax (IHT) is due a return must be completed and submitted to HMRC and any IHT paid.
• Once all the assets have been collected in and liabilities have been paid the balance of the estate can then be paid to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will or the rules of intestacy.

How long does it take?

Administering an estate can be a lengthy process, generally it takes between 6–12 months. International probate is more complex taking between 6–24 months.

Disputes between executors, beneficiaries, creditors and HMRC often crop up when administering an estate which can cause issues and delays.

Probate ends once all taxes and debts have been paid and all inheritance passed on.

How we can help

Dealing with an estate can be a complicated affair. At KBL, our specialist team provide a fully comprehensive service to assist with the complicated forms, tax liabilities, property, estate administration and any disputes. We can deal with the entire estate if you don’t want to administer the estate yourself, we will:

• Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to work on your matter. You will liaise directly with your solicitor on all substantive matters.
• Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
• Identify the type of Grant application you will require (Probate or Letters of Administration)
• Liaise with financial institutions for pre-grant information
• Complete the Probate Application including a Statement of Truth and relevant HMRC forms
• Make the application to the Probate Registry on your behalf
• Deal with any requisitions raised by the Probate Registry
• Collect in assets and settle all liabilities
• Prepare accounts for approval
• Deal with distributions liaising with beneficiaries on your behalf including bankruptcy searches
• Advise you on matters of income and capital gains tax in the administration period

We have considerable experience of acting either as the executors appointed under a Will or, alternatively, as advisors to the appointed family executors. We are also experts in dealing with intestate estates, where the deceased hasn’t made a Will and advice is needed on the various issues which arise.

If you or your family members require advice or assistance with Probate, Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Tax Planning or Asset Protection please do not hesitate to contact Berin Jones or Chris Taylor in our Wills, Trusts, Tax & Probate department on 01204 527777 (Bolton) or  01254 268790 (Blackburn).