Estate administration can be a time consuming and complicated process, at a time when you and your family are coming to terms with your loss.
We can help to avoid the onerous responsibility placed on executors, due to the liability to beneficiaries, creditors and HM Revenue & Customs by completing the full administration of Estate for a fixed fee.
Alternatively our popular Grant only service allows Executors to limit the costs to the Estate by instructing us to complete the necessary forms to obtain the Grant. Once it has been issued you can administer the Estate on your own.
Under the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Transparency Rules we are required to display price and service information for grant and administration services.
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What is Grant of Probate?
Applying for Probate is the process by which a formal ‘Grant’ is made by the court authorising someone to collect a deceased’s assets, sell them and distribute it to beneficiaries.
When is a Grant of Probate needed?
If the deceased owned land, property or shares in their own name then Probate will be needed.
This is regardless of whether the deceased had a Will or not - which is a popular misconception. Probate is the authority that allows a person’s estate to be collected and distributed according to their Will (if they have one); it is not a substitute.
In terms of current and savings accounts, banks set their own limit above which Probate will be required.
|Bank||Probate Threshold *|
|National Savings & Investments||£15,000|
* these figures are based on their websites at the time of writing
It is worth checking with the individual organisation as to whether or not they require a Grant.
Jointly held bank and savings accounts will typically automatically transfer to the other named holder without the bank requiring a Grant.
Who obtains probate?
If there is a Will those persons named as Executors will obtain probate unless they do not want to. Where there is no Will, relatives are entitled to administer the estate but there is an order of entitlement which reflects the rules of intestacy.
How do I apply for probate?
Applying for Probate involves 5 steps:
- Step 1. Locating last Will
- Step 2. Identifying all of the deceased’s assets which includes cash, property, investments, shares and possessions and all of their liabilities such as outstanding mortgage, loans, unpaid utility bills to determine the value of their Estate
- Step 3. Paying Inheritance Tax to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if appropriate
- Step 4. Preparing and signing the correct Inheritance Tax form, which is required whether or not there is tax due and Swearing an Oath
- Step 5. Applying to the Probate Registry for the Grant
What happens after I have obtained Probate?
After the Grant has been issued by the Probate Registry, the Estate must be dealt with in accordance with the terms of the Will.
This may involve selling the deceased’s assets, settling their liabilities paying any further Inheritance Tax or Income Tax. The beneficiaries may request a set of accounts detailing all payments out and capital received.
The final stage will involve distributing the cash or assets to the beneficiaries.
Please click a question below to expand:
When someone dies without a valid Will it is called Intestacy.
The Intestacy rules then determine who can deal with the deceased’s estate and who should benefit from it. In brief:
- The person’s spouse inherits all their personal possessions and the first £250,000 of the estate
- For estates valued over £250,000 the remaining inheritance is split 50/50 between the spouse and children
Relatives such as siblings or grandchildren only inherit if there’s no surviving spouse or children.
If there are no relatives then the estate will be inherited by the Crown.
These rules don’t provide for unmarried partners or step children which is why it can be important to make a Will.
You can search for a probate record in England and Wales online or by post for people who died after 1857.
If one has not yet been issued you can apply to be sent a copy of a probate if it’s granted in the next 6 months (a ‘standing search’). You can extend the standing search after 6 months.
There are a number of reasons for diverting an entitlement under a Will or Intestacy to somebody else such as taking advantage of new tax laws, providing for someone who had been excluded from a Will, not needing the money or just to pass assets on to the next generation.
The benefit of using a Deed of Variation is that there are no Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax consequences for the original beneficiary, it is deemed as though the deceased made the gift.
A Deed of Variation has many strict conditions that have to be met some of which are:
- The variation must be made within 2 years of the death
- It must clearly identify the part of the estate being varied and who is benefitting from the variation
- It must be signed by all beneficiaries who are giving up their rights to some or all of their inheritance/entitlement
- It must include special statements regarding Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax Deeds of Variation are retrospective and the new beneficiary is treated as having been entitled from the date of death
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