What Is Probate?
Depending upon the value of the estate and the type of assets held by the deceased, it may be necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation (commonly referred to as ‘Probate’) to show that the Personal Representatives are entitled to deal with the deceased’s estate.
Where someone has died leaving a Will it will generally be a Grant of Probate that is applied for by the Executors appointed in the Will to give them the authority to deal with the assets in the estate.
Where someone has died without leaving a Will, an application will need to be made for the Grant of Letters of Administration, by the person(s) entitled as Administrators of the estate, in order that they may deal with the assets in the estate.
Where Does The Authority For Executors And Administrators Come From?
The authority of an Executor comes from their appointment in the Will which means that there may be some matters that they can deal with before the Grant of Probate has been obtained.
However, the authority of an Administrator comes from the Grant of Letters of Administration, so there are very limited steps that may be taken before this has been obtained.
If an Administrator or Executor starts to ‘intermeddle’ in the deceased’s estate before they have obtained the Grant then it may be too late for them to decide that they don’t want to complete the administration at a later date as they’ve already involved themselves.
How Do We Obtain A Grant Of Representation?
The Grant of Representation is obtained my making an application to the District Probate Registry. Whilst it is possible to make an application as a lay applicant, most people instruct a solicitor to make the application on their behalf, and to provide them with the appropriate advice.
The application needs to be submitted along with a court fee which is currently £273 regardless of whether the application is being made by a lay person or a professional.
If the estate is liable to inheritance tax then the tax must be paid before the Grant can be applied for.
How Do We Pay The Tax?
Having to pay the tax before you can access the deceased’s funds can be a problem, but it may be possible for us to liaise with HMRC on your behalf to arrange for the tax to be paid directly from the deceased’s bank/building society accounts. If this is not possible (for example there are insufficient funds) then we can assist in obtaining a loan from a national bank to allow the tax to be paid and the Grant issued. The loan can then be repaid once the assets in the estate are sold.
How Can We Pay Less Tax?
Nobody wants to pay more tax than they have to, so it is important that the administration of the estate is dealt with as tax efficiently as possible, ensuring that all the relevant reliefs have been claimed.
It may also be possible to reduce the tax payable by varying the estate.
What Happens After The Grant Is Issued?
When the Grant has been issued you can then start to deal with the closure of the various accounts and sell any property or shares.
When the assets have been dealt with and all the estate liabilities paid, the estate can then be distributed in accordance with the Will or the Rules of intestacy.
If it isn’t possible to complete the administration of the estate (e.g. the house is taking a while to sell) then part of the estate could be distributed, keeping a reserve back to cover any additional liabilities.
How Long Will It Take?
It is always difficult to give an estimate on how long it will take to administer an estate because it very much depends on what assets are involved and how long the District Probate Registry is taking to process applications for the Grant of Representation. With expert advice, the administration can often be completed within twelve months of the death.
How We Can Help
For further information regarding the above or if you would like to discuss a Wills & Probate related query with one of the team, please call us on 0800 011 6666 or e-mail the team at email@example.com.