Dealing with a Deceased Person’s Money and Property
09 January 2017
When a person dies, someone will need to deal with their money, property and any other assets that are left behind. Together these assets are known as the deceased person’s Estate.
The person who is able to deal with the Estate will depend on whether or not there is a valid Will. If there is a Will, responsibility will fall with the Executors. If there is not a valid Will, or the Executors have died or refuse to act, then the beneficiaries under the Will, or the next-of-kin if there is no Will, can apply to be an Administrator.
However, unless the Estate is very small or all held in joint names, the Executor or Administrator must get legal authority to deal with the deceased person’s money and property. The process of obtaining this legal authority is known as Probate.
Once Probate has been granted the Executor or Administrator can start dealing with the deceased person’s Estate, including their money, property and possessions.
With a Grant of Probate, it will be possible to collect money being held in bank accounts, stocks and shares, investments, life insurance and building societies. Banks will sometimes release funds without seeing a Grant of Probate, but the limit is different for each bank and can be as low as £5,000.
The Executor or Administrator will also be able to deal with any property the deceased person owned. This includes selling a property or transferring it into another person’s name.
Probate may not be necessary if the property was jointly owned. If the other owner has survived the deceased, the property may automatically pass to him or her. This is often the case, but it depends on the type of joint ownership. But if the property is solely owned, Probate will enable the asset to be sold or transferred according to the wishes set out in the Will, or according to the Rules of Intestacy if there is no Will.
How to Apply for Probate
To apply for Probate in England or Wales, you need to complete and send a number of forms to the Probate Registry, along with the original Will, the death certificate, Inheritance Tax forms and the Probate Registry application fee which is currently £215.In larger and more complicated estates, the Inheritance Tax forms have to be sent to HM Revenue & Customs.
Afterwards you will be asked to attend an interview at a Probate Registry office, or to take the papers to a local solicitor to be signed and sworn. Once the initial payment of Inheritance Tax has been made, a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if there is no Will) is given. The Executor or Administrator is then legally able to deal the deceased’s property and money.
If you prefer, a Solicitor can apply for a Grant of Probate on your behalf. While it is possible to do Probate yourself, the Probate process can require 70 - 100 hours of highly detailed administrative work including valuing the Estate, submitting Inheritance and Income Tax forms, and you can be held financially liable for any mistakes made during the Estate administration process; which can take up to a year and even more in complicated cases.
At Co-op Legal Services our Probate Solicitors can complete the Probate and Estate administration process for you. We will gather all the information, send off the forms and deal with the Probate Registry. This means you will not have to attend for an interview at a Probate Registry office.
We offer a fixed price Probate fee so you know how much it will cost from the start. Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that price will not change unless the original information we are given is shown to be incorrect or circumstances change.