Bereavement can be a very difficult time and knowing what to do next can be a daunting process, particularly if it’s the first time you’ve had to deal with a death. Generally speaking, people do not know how to do probate and what it is, so are grateful for a clear explanation of the process in plain English.
What is estate administration?
Put simply, estate administration is the word used to describe the legal process of administering the estate when someone dies, that is, after deducting debts and other liabilities, transferring that person's money and possessions to the people who will inherit them: their beneficiaries.
When is probate required?
If there are assets in the deceased’s sole name that are above a certain value, probate is likely to be needed. Around 50% of estates in England and Wales require this process.
Banks, building societies, share registrars and other institutions all have different requirements for dealing with a deceased person's account. As a general rule most institutions will release up to about £15,000 of an estate to the Executors of the Will on production of a death certificate and a copy of the Will – that is, without the need for probate. However, thresholds can range anywhere from £5,000 to £30,000. Kings Court Trust’s Probate Advice Line has knowledge of the different requirements for various institutions, and can give tips on how to do probate and next steps.
Once you have collected together important documents, here is a simple overview of how to do probate and the key stages:
- Arranging the funeral – One of the most important first jobs is to register the death in order to then make appropriate funeral arrangements. The cost of a funeral can usually be paid from a bank or building society account in the deceased's sole name, regardless of whether or not probate is required.
- Obtain initial estate information – It is important to contact asset holders and gather information and values as at the date of death. Similarly, you need to obtain balances of any outstanding liabilities such as utilities, credit cards or loans.
- Submit Inheritance Tax forms and apply for Probate – Complete the relevant Inheritance Tax forms and organise payment, if necessary, ahead of submitting the application for the Grant of Probate to the probate registry.
- Collect Assets – Once you’ve received the Grant of Probate, you will be able to deal with any assets which need to be sold or transferred into the beneficiaries’ name.
- Pay liabilities & distribute the estate – All liabilities, expenses and legacies should be paid before the estate is then distributed to beneficiaries, according to the terms of the Will or the rules of intestacy if there is no Will.
There are, of course, other legal issues and tax work that may also need to be taken into account along the way, depending on the deceased’s individual circumstances, so it is usually worth speaking to a professional for advice before you get started.
The estate administration specialists at Kings Court Trust are on hand to provide free advice and practical support when you need it most.
Whatever your query, or if you want to find out more about the different services we offer and the fixed costs involved, please call us on 0300 303 9000.