Probate is the word usually used to describe the process for administering the estate of a deceased person.

The probate process deals with inheritance tax and the legal and financial aspects of the deceased in order to resolve all claims and distribute the deceased person’s property in accordance with their final wishes.

Most probate cases follow the same steps:
  • Check if the deceased had a will
  • Apply to the probate registry for a ‘grant of probate’
  • Identifying all of the deceased’s assets and liabilities and paying any Inheritance Tax due to HMRC.
  • Collect the estate’s assets, e.g. money from the sale of the person’s property.
  • Pay any debts, e.g. unpaid loans or utility bills.
  • Distribute the estate

The time it takes for the probate process to be completed can vary substantially and depends on a number of factors. In our experience, a simple probate case can usually be resolved in around six months whilst more complex cases can take twelve months or even longer.

This depends somewhat on the financial affairs of the deceased and ensuring that any potential creditors have due time to put in their claim against the estate. We can help ensure that your affairs are handled in as expedient a way as possible and also a tax efficient manner.

It is important to note that arguments between family members, beneficiaries or personal representatives can also cause delays. Any disagreements must be sorted out before the affairs of the person who died can be settled. Probate is the term used for this process in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland the probate process is known as ‘grant of probate’ and in Scotland as ‘confirmation’.

Probate services concern the administering of the estate of a deceased person in order to resolve all claims and distribute the deceased person’s property as per their final wishes. The process can be handled by an authorised  professional or alternatively by a relative or friend.

If the deceased’s estate is worth less than £5,000 or the deceased owned everything jointly with their spouse or civil partner, probate is not usually needed. However, some financial organisations may require probate even if only a small amount of money is involved. We would recommend seeking out someone skilled in handling the process for all but the most straightforward cases. There are many moving parts to this and handling the estate of the deceased can be very complicated.

This is especially important in situations such as the following:
  • The estate has exceeded the Inheritance Tax threshold and Inheritance Tax is due
  • There is no Will
  • Any issues with the Will have been raised
  • Someone has been left out of the Will
  • The estate continues to receive income;
  • Estate also includes foreign assets
  • There are doubts about the insolvency of the estate
  • The estate includes property under a tenancy in common arrangement.

In order to apply for probate, an application form must be completed. In addition, Inheritance Tax forms need to be completed and the deceased’s estate must be valued before it can be applied for. An official copy of the death certificate, the original Will and any fees due must also be submitted.

The person applying will also need to swear an oath confirming that the information given is true, promising to administer the estate properly. We are delighted to let our readers know that Key Business Consultants have passed the exams to apply for authorisation to handle the process for our clients.

The ICAEW is an approved licensing authority for probate services and we are now able to apply for accreditation to offer said services. The grant is actually just one small part of handling an estate. We would be happy to discuss planning so that the issues are already taken care of.

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