The passing of a close friend or relative can be a really difficult time. But knowing how to legally handle their estate – property, money and possessions – can help put your mind to rest. There’s certainly a lot to think about. And if you’re the named executor of a Will, you’ll need to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to become a ‘personal representative’ and carry out your duties properly. If there is no Will, you’ll need to obtain a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ to ensure the estate is handled legally. For the purpose of this guide and to keep things as simple as possible, the term ‘Probate’ will be used to cover all situations.
So, here’s what you need to know about Probate administration.
What Does Probate Involve?
Obtaining Grant of Probate is the administrative process that is undertaken by the executors of a deceased’s estate. It can be an extremely complex and long-winded process which is why many people seek out a Kent accountant for Probate services or other professional help. Typically, Probate involves a lot of paperwork, including tax calculations, to advise on the inheritance tax position, the deceased’s income tax liabilities to the date of death, and the income tax liabilities of the estate during the period of administration.
If a Will has been made, Probate also ensures that the deceased’s remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. Intestacy provisions will kick in if no valid Will can be located and, sadly, this might not follow the known wishes of the person who passed away. This is why it’s so important to make a Will while you can.
Is Probate Always Required?
The short answer to this question is no. In some circumstances, you do not have to go through the Probate process. For example, if the deceased has a low-value estate. Banks set their own thresholds, however, so it’s important to check. While some will release funds of £5000 or less, others will release funds up to £50,000 without Probate. Probate is also not needed if assets are held jointly; for example, joint tenants of a property or a couple with a joint bank account will not need probate for these assets to be transferred from the deceased to the other party.
Probate will be needed, however, if property is held jointly with another person but as tenants in common. This means the deceased’s share will be divided in accordance with their Will or the intestacy provisions set out.
Applying for Grant of Probate
As representatives of the deceased, you’ll need to apply for a Grant of Probate in a three-stage process. The first stage is to complete inheritance tax forms. This involves working out the value of someone’s estate so you might want to seek the help of Kent tax advisors to make the job easier. The second stage is completing your probate application either online or on paper. The third step is to submit the application alongside the original Will and any codicils, a Statement of Truth and a copy of the death certificate and payment of the Probate application fees.
Once the forms have been processed, you should receive the grant of representation within four to eight weeks (subject to the Probate Registry’s workload). Currently, the Probate application fee – which is payable where a Probate professional is not submitting the application – is £215 for estates with a value of £5,000 or more. No fee is payable for estates worth less than £5,000. Where a Probate professional submits the application, the fee is £155.
Applying for Probate can be complex so it’s advisable to obtain professional help.