Probate is the term used to describe the process of managing the estate of a deceased person. Probate could involve administering their money, possessions and assets, and organising their distribution as an inheritance – after settling taxes or debts that may be owed. If the deceased person has left a Will, it will name a person that they’ve chosen to manage the administration of their estate. This person is referred to as the Executor of the Will. There may be more than one executor, and this can be specified in the Will itself.
The executor(s) will need to apply for a Grant of Probate or a letter of administration, which is a legal document stating that they have the legal right to deal with the deceased person’s belongings and assets and distribution of their estate. A Grant of Probate is usually issued four weeks to eight weeks after the documentation has been sent to HMRC. If a Will is in place and matters are straightforward, it is reasonable to expect the entire probate process to take between six to twelve months.
How Does Probate Work?
Generally, 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. The process for dealing with someone’s affairs will depend on whether you choose to do it yourself or appoint a solicitor or probate professional to act on your behalf.
The appointed Executor needs to notify the banks, relevant government authorities and possibly Estate Agents to obtain valuations of the deceased’s assets for the Probate and HMRC forms that are needed to apply for the Grant.
Wills and probate law are notoriously complex, and most people opt to use the services of a professional probate specialist or solicitor to help them. However, it is possible to do it yourself by completing the relevant forms. If you are in England, you will need to apply to the Probate Registry.
Once a Grant is obtained, this then gives the Executor the ability to “call in” the estate assets and you will then be responsible for collecting all the monies and proceeds in order to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries of the Will.
The probate process is divided into five stages:
1) Identifying the value of the estate
2) Calculating and paying any inheritance tax owed to HMRC.
3) Paying final administration expenses (e.g. funeral director, solicitor, estate agent etc.) of the estate and informing HMRC if any further taxes are due.
4) Preparing the estate accounts and issuing these to other executors and beneficiaries.
5) Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.
Note that executors are advised to wait a minimum of 6 months from the date that a Grant of Probate is obtained before distribution to avoid any claimants to the estate coming forward.
Don’t Struggle With Probate On Your Own – Let Us Help
Administering a Will is often a stressful experience at an emotional time, so contact Cornerstone Wills for a consultation to safeguard yourself and your family for the future. As probate, estate planning, and inheritance specialists, we offer two types of probate services in London to assist you in this task: the Forms Online or Complete Service, as well as clear and comprehensive advice regarding all aspects of probate.
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