Probate Explained by Probate Solicitors
Probate is the word normally used to describe the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with the property, money and other possessions of an individual who has passed away in England or Wales.
Probate involves a lot of complicated legal and financial work, and can be broken down into five different phases.
Phase 1. Identifying all of the deceased’s assets (property, investments and possessions) and all of their liabilities (debts ranging from loans to utility bills), in order to determine the value of their Estate.
At the same time, verifying entitlement to the Estate under the terms of the deceased’s Will, or in accordance with the law governing Intestacy if they died without a Will, and obtaining the necessary identification documents for those beneficiaries.
Phase 2. Paying Inheritance Tax to HMRC (HM Customs & Excise) where applicable, and submitting the correct Inheritance Iax return (required whether or not there is tax due), and applying to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation, being a document confirming the legal authority to administer the estate.
Phase 3. After the Grant of Representation has been issued by the Probate Registry, liquidating (selling) the deceased’s assets, settling their liabilities, paying the final estate administration expenses and accounting to HMRC for any further Inheritance Tax, any Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax due to or from the estate.
Phase 4. Preparing estate accounts documenting all payments into and out of the Estate, and showing the balance left for distribution to the beneficiaries. Sending the estate accounts to the Personal Representatives (such as the Executor in the Will) for approval.
Phase 5. Providing there are no challenges to the estate or other complicating factors preventing distribution at this stage, the final phase will involve transferring any assets that the beneficiaries wish to retain, and distributing the balance of the estate funds.
When is Probate Required in the UK?
Probate is required in England and Wales when:
- Property (houses, buildings or land) is owned by the deceased.
- A Grant of Representation is required by a bank or other financial institution with which the deceased held assets. This is normally if the amount in the account is over the specific threshold set by that institution*.
*Banks and other financial institutions set their own limit above which Probate will be required, so it's worth checking with the individual organisation as to whether or not they require a Grant of Representation.
How We Can Help You
We can explain the Probate and Estate Administration processes to you and provide free initial advice and guidance, which will help you to make important decisions about what to do next.
Additionally we can take care of all the legal, tax (excluding VAT) and estate administration processes on your behalf, when you choose our Probate Complete Service.
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For free initial advice about Probate call Co-operative Legal Services on 0330 606 9584 or contact us online and we will help you.
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