What is probate and when is it required?
Probate is the legal and financial process of dealing with the property, money, and possessions of a person who has unfortunately died.
What is probate?
Probate explained by probate solicitors
Probate Definition: In England and Wales Probate is the word normally used to describe the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with the property, money, and possessions (often called the assets) of a person who has unfortunately died.
Before the next of kin or Executor named in the Will can claim, transfer, sell or distribute any of the deceased’s assets they may have to apply for Probate.
When Probate has been granted through a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration the next of kin or Executor can start to deal with the deceased person’s assets in accordance with their Will. If the deceased died without a Will the law will determine who should receive everything, see probate without a Will for complete details.
The probate process explained in more detail
The Probate process often involves a lot of complicated legal, tax and financial work which can be broken down into five different steps.
Probate Step 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 Intestacy laws if they died without a Will, and obtaining the necessary identification documents for those beneficiaries.
Probate Step 2. Paying Inheritance Tax to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) where applicable, and submitting the correct Inheritance Tax 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.
Probate Step 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.
Probate Step 4. Preparing the Estate accounts and 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 their approval.
Probate Step 5. Providing there are no challenges to the Estate or other complicating factors preventing distribution at this stage, the final step will involve transferring any assets that the beneficiaries wish to retain, and distributing the balance of the Estate funds.
When is probate required?
Probate is Required in England or 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 money or 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?
With our Complete Probate Service, we take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excluding VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.
We can deal with HM Revenue & Customs on your behalf.
We can explain the Probate and Estate Administration processes to you and provide free initial advice and guidance, and we provide you with a written fixed fee quote for dealing with Probate on your behalf.