Where a person who has made a Will dies it may be necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate. If the money and property left (this is called the deceased person’s estate) is only worth a few thousand pounds it may not be necessary to obtain probate. If there is a house or flat or significant savings a Grant of Probate is generally required in order to carry out the instructions under the Will.
The procedure is to collect all the information about the person’s financial assets and any debts that they owe including funeral costs. The form for inheritance tax that is required by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs then has to be filled in. Many estates do not pay inheritance tax but the tax form is required in order to show this and probate cannot be obtained without sending in this form. Estates over £325,000.00 may have to pay inheritance tax but there are some other exemptions so that estates of a higher sum may still not have to pay inheritance tax. For example, money or property left to your surviving wife, husband or civil partner does not incur inheritance tax nor does money left to a registered charity. If you leave a property that you lived in to your children or grandchildren, the limit before inheritance tax becomes payable is higher.
Once the tax form is completed the Executor’s Oath is prepared. The Executors are the people named in the Will to carry out the instructions in it. The Oath has to be sworn and the Will signed by the Executors and all these papers including the tax form are then sent to the Probate Registry. There is a fee to apply for probate and it is usually around £155-£160. If all is in order the Probate Registry then issues the Grant of Probate. Once this has been received the Executors can collect in the money from bank accounts etc, pay the debts of the estate and distribute the money in accordance with the Will.
Our company can provide an initial fixed fee interview to explain the probate procedure in detail and then act for the Executors in the above process. The Executors can do some of the work themselves if they wish. The solicitor normally prepares the tax form and the Executor’s Oath.
If there is no Will, the process is generally similar but you apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. It is necessary to draw up a family tree of relatives to establish who should receive the estate under the intestacy rules. Apart from the deceased person’s husband or wife the estate only goes to blood relatives so an unmarried partner or other people related only by marriage would not receive any of the financial assets. Again our company is able to provide full advice on intestacy situations, i.e. where there is no Will or where the Will does not cover all of the assets in the estate.
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