There’s no arguing that the loss of a loved one is an immensely difficult thing for anyone to experience – suddenly the family is left with the vital task of managing the affairs of the deceased, processing their grief, and continuing with their everyday lives.
In light of all this, we feel that everyone can benefit from being fully informed about the probate process in advance. This article will introduce and explain the basic steps of probate.
1. Check for a Will and a Death Certificate
The very first step in the process is obtaining copies of the Death Certificate. You will need the original Will and the Death Certificate to start the process. This will enable you to either make the application yourself or engage a solicitor on your behalf.
Likewise, finding the Will is a critical early step when it comes to administering the assets of the deceased. There are differences between the probate process for someone who left a Will and one who died without one. The process for administering an estate where there is a Will is easier, cheaper, and takes less time.
2. Make Contact with Asset Holders
This process refers to contacting all the financial institutions that hold any of the assets of the deceased – typically this will involve banks, life assurance companies, pension providers, insurance agencies, etc. You might need to request an official valuation of the assets held by each of these providers to enable you to ascertain the value of the estates.
3. Pay inheritance tax and apply for a Grant of Probate
Once the total assets and liabilities of the deceased have been ascertained, check whether inheritance tax is payable from the estate. This will depend on a person’s individual circumstances. For example, was the deceased single, married or in a civil partnership? In addition, whether they had children or not is relevant in determining how much inheritance tax, if any, is payable.
Inheritance tax must be paid six months after the death otherwise, interest is charged until the tax is paid in full.. Therefore, it is important to find out whether there are monies in bank accounts that are accessible so they can be used to pay the inheritance. Otherwise, a loan will be required to pay for it. This is very distressing for the loved ones who are grieving.
After any inheritance tax has been paid, the next step is to apply for a grant of probate or letters of administration if there is no Will. This is the document that enables the Executor to manage and distribute the assets according to the instructions left in the Will.
Calling in the Assets and Paying debts
After the Grant of Probate or the Letters of Administration have been obtained, the next step is to call in the assets. This means that the Grant of Probate is sent to the financial institutions requesting them to release the monies that they hold.
Before assets can be distributed to beneficiaries, the Executor is advised to place a statutory advertisement in the Gazette and a Local Newspaper where the deceased lived announcing the death and giving an opportunity for any creditors or beneficiaries who are not mentioned in the Will to come forward to assert their claims. Once published, claimants have two months to notify the Executors of their claim after which the estate can be distributed.
5. Distributing the Estate & Final Accounts
The final step is to draft the Estate Accounts to account for all the monies that have been received into the estate by the beneficiaries.
You’re in Good Hands
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors specialises in probate, drafting Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, and Equity Release as a mechanism to reduce inheritance tax. We provide our legal service with care, sympathy, and understanding. Contact us today to find out how we can help.