Probate Complications with an Estate Resolved Case Study

22 September 2016

Client Situation

Vicky Howard contacted our Probate Advisory team about the Estate of her late friend, Dorothy Walker who had appointed Vicky Howard as the Executor of the Will. On the face of it, dealing with Probate for the Estate appeared quite straightforward to Vicky Howard, but it wasn’t long before complications began to surface.

There was Inheritance Tax (IHT) to pay, and some complicated calculations were involved. Also, Dorothy Walker owned some royalties, and it was not clear what should be done with these. The Will was straightforward enough, but her signature was weak and shaky, which can sometimes cause problems when trying to obtain a Grant of Probate.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for obtaining Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (not VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs*.

How We Helped

Vicky signed a Power of Attorney appointing our Probate Solicitors and case handlers to deal with the administration of Dorothy’s Estate. We dealt with the complete Probate process from start to finish, and took all of the stress and worry away from Vicky.

We calculated the Inheritance Tax, and obtained clearance from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Given that the deceased had left 10% of her Estate to charity, we were able to reduce the rate of Inheritance Tax down from 40% to 36% and make a significant saving. The deceased’s property was sold for less than it was thought to be worth at the date of her death, so we were able to reduce the Inheritance Tax bill further still by applying to HMRC for what is called ‘loss relief’.

Royalties can be tricky assets in a Probate situation, as they are not easy to value for Inheritance Tax and they usually have to be transferred to someone rather than sold. We negotiated with HMRC and agreed a sensible value, and, after liaising with the other beneficiaries in the Estate, we arranged for the royalties to be transferred to Vicky so that she would receive the future payments from the royalties.

We obtained sworn statements from the two witnesses to the Will. They were happy to confirm that the Will was signed and witnessed in accordance with English law, and that the deceased had read and understood the contents of the Will before signing it. This resolved the issue of the weak and shaky signature to the Probate Registry’s satisfaction, and the Grant of Probate was issued without any problems.

The Outcome

Once we had finished dealing with the administration of the Estate, we arranged for the inheritances to be paid to the deceased’s close friends and favourite charities in accordance with the terms of her Will. They were all very grateful, and Vicky in particular was happy to know that her role as Executor of the Will had been completed without any problems.

“It has been all of your carefulness and kindness that I will always remember and this has meant the most to me. I will recommend your company without hesitation”. Vicky Howard, London.

*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

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