The death of someone close can be one of the most difficult situations we face in life. We understand that the need to make a number of complicated decisions and unfamiliar arrangements can place an added burden on you during what is already a sad time.
Getting help to deal with the practical and financial implications may make it easier to cope during this difficult period. And if you feel like you could benefit from a little help, we’re here for you.
Areas of specialism
- Obtaining Grants of Probate (if there is a Will) and Grants of Letters of Administration (if there is no Will)
- Dealing with the administration of an estate and distribution to beneficiaries
- Preparation of Estate Accounts for Personal Representatives
- Preparation of and advice on Inheritance Tax returns
- Post-death arrangements to reduce Inheritance Tax
What is Probate?
If you're named as an executor of someone's Will, you’ll need a legal document called a grant of probate that gives you the right to sort out their affairs.
A Grant of probate is often required when dealing with banks and other financial institutions, local authorities, tax and pensions, insurance and estate agents, if selling a property. In most cases, the relevant institution will need to see the grant of probate before transferring control of the assets.
Once we understand your needs we can advise which probate service is best suited to you, grant of probate only or full estate administration. Probate can be a lengthy process, depending on the size, value and complexity of someone's estate but it is much easier if that person has made a Will.
If there isn't a Will, sorting out someone's affairs can become much more complicated, time consuming and costly.
Do we need to go through Probate?
Depending on their value, assets which are held in a person's sole name (property, bank accounts, shares and other investments) will often require a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration before they can be cashed in or sold. Some assets are owned jointly such as a joint bank account or a jointly owned house. Grants are not usually needed for these assets to pass to the surviving joint owner. The value of the share may have to be declared for Inheritance Tax though.
How long does Probate take?
The "Probate" procedure involves the Personal Representatives getting values of assets, taking from this any debt amounts and then sending an Affidavit and details of value of the estate to the Probate Registry. The time involved largely depends on what is in the estate. The more wide ranging the types of assets there are in an estate the longer it could take. If Inheritance Tax has to be paid, the values of the assets in an estate may have to be agreed with the HMRC and this could take time.
Do we have to pay any tax?
There are three taxes which could apply when administering an estate. There may be Inheritance Tax to pay on the value of the net estate. There could be Capital Gains Tax to pay on the gain in value of certain assets (e.g a house or shareholding investments) between the date of death and the date of sale. Income Tax could be payable on any "income" into the estate since the date of death (e.g. bank interest since the date of death).
What do we do about debts?
If the estate is solvent (there are more assets than debts) then the debts should be paid off after the Personal Representatives have collected in all the assets once they have obtained the Grant. Sometimes gifts in a Will are left subject to a charge or secured debt. Sometimes a Will sets aside a fund for the payment of debts. A properly drafted Will should provide the Personal Representatives with all they need to know about how debts should be paid from the estate.
Do we need to keep records?
Personal Representatives should keep records of the funds they have collected in and debts they have paid out from the estate. The beneficiaries of an estate may be entitled to see an Estate Account when they receive their share of the estate.
If you would like advice regarding probate, please contact our experienced Wills and Probate team today on 033 3344 9606 or 033 3344 9600 or complete our online contact form.