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When a deceased person leaves an estate, a process needs to be carried out in order to distribute the contents of it.
Probate is the term used in England and Wales for the process of administering the estate of a deceased person. In Northern Ireland the probate process is known as ‘grant of probate’ and in Scotland it is known as ‘confirmation’.
Who can carry out the probate process?
The probate process can be handled by an authorised professional or alternatively by a relative or friend.
In order to carry out the probate process, where a will has been left, a person must have a ‘grant of probate’, and where there is no will, a person must have ‘letters of administration'. In order to have either a ‘grant of probate’ or ‘letters of administration’, it is necessary to apply for probate.
In order to apply for probate the following must be done:
- an application form must be completed
- Inheritance Tax forms need to be completed
- the deceased person’s estate must be valued
- an official copy of the death certificate needs to be presented
- the original Will needs to be presented
- fees due must be submitted
The person applying for probate will also need to swear an oath confirming that the information given is true, promising to administer the estate properly.
What is involved in the probate process?
Once an application for probate has been successful, the following steps will need to be taken:
- All of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities will need to be identified.
- Once all the assets and liabilities have been identified, the Inheritance Tax due on these must be calculated.
- The Inheritance Tax must then be paid to HMRC.
- The assets of the deceased person will need to be collected. This could be, for example, from the sale of their property or from savings in a bank account.
- Any debts which the deceased person has left, such as unpaid loans or utility bills, need to be cleared using the assets.
- The assets which are left can then be distributed as per any wishes of the deceased person.
How long does the probate process take?
There is no set time for the probate process. The time to complete the probate process depends on a number of factors such as:
- the state of the financial affairs of the deceased
- allowing potential creditors time to make a claim against the estate
- resolving any arguments between family members, beneficiaries or personal representatives as these must be sorted out before the assets of a deceased person can be settled
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.
Is the probate process always required?
No. There are instances where the probate process is not necessary such as if the deceased person’s estate is worth less than £5,000 or the deceased person owned everything jointly with their spouse or civil partner.
However, regardless of when the probate process would not normally be required, some financial organisations may still require the probate process to be carried out.
Can the probate process be complicated?
Yes, the probate process can be complicated. This is can be the case where, for example:
- the deceased person’s estate has exceeded the Inheritance Tax threshold and therefore, Inheritance Tax is due
- there is no Will
- there are issues regarding the Will, such as someone being left out
- the estate is still receiving income
- the estate also includes foreign assets
- there are doubts about the insolvency of the estate
- the estate includes property under a tenancy in common arrangement
How can we help?
The probate process is not necessarily a simple process as it involves legal and financial aspects, such as dealing with the Inheritance Tax of the deceased person.
Key Business Consultants, however, can alleviate you of this task by:
- applying for probate on your behalf
- ensuring that the probate process is handled expediently and smoothly as possible, as well as in a tax efficient manner
- ascertain where the probate process is required and where it may not be, and take the worry away from you about whether or not you are complying with the correct procedures.
We are accredited by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) which is an approved licensing authority for probate services.