Estate administration is the process of dealing with a person’s legal and tax affairs after they’ve died.
This means dealing with all their assets (such as property, shares and personal possessions), paying debts and paying any Inheritance Tax and Income Tax. Whatever's left is transferred to beneficiaries. Estate administration can be extremely complex and is required after every death, whether or not there is a Will.
12 months on average from case opening to the final payment to beneficiaries, though every estate is different and less complex estates are typically finalised sooner.
Payment of inheritance
We make interim distributions as soon as possible, typically starting around 12 weeks into the estate administration process.
With Kings Court Trust, you pay a fixed price that never changes, regardless of the work required.
Probate is one part of estate administration. The cost of the application is included in our price, and we handle everything.
The 10 stages of estate administration
Every estate is different, but for each one we break the process into 10 stages. These often overlap and all timescales are estimates. If you have any questions during the process, you can ask your personal estate adviser. They will keep you up-to-date with progress.
We'll contact banks, HMRC, the Department for Work and Pensions, creditors and other financial institutions. We'll let them know we're acting and ask for date-of-death valuations.
Preparing tax forms and applying for the Grant
Our specialist tax team will prepare the Inheritance Tax forms. We need to do this even if there's no tax. If there is tax, the process will take longer, and we'll have to include full and final valuations.
Then we'll apply for the Grant of Representation, commonly known as a Grant of Probate. We do this in our name, on your behalf. That means there's no need for you to visit a probate registry and we take on any liability.
We'll also start work on the Income Tax affairs. And if the Will contains a nil rate band discretionary trust, we'll write to the trustees with information.
Once we've received the Grant of Representation we'll send it to banks, mortgage companies and anywhere else the deceased had an account, policy or debt. We'll close accounts and collect funds.
Our specialist legal team will start work on trusts within the Will, property transfers and other legal tasks like statutory declarations.
Paying the funeral and making payments
Once we've received sufficient funds, we'll pay the funeral bill.
We'll also try and make initial distributions to the beneficiaries. That means we'll try and pay out some of the family's inheritance. This depends on a few things. For example, if we don't have sufficient funds, if we can't pay the deceased's debts, or if there's an active enquiry from the Department for Work and Pensions, we'll have to wait.
If we have sufficient funds we'll pay our fixed fee in full.
Selling and transferring assets
We'll sell shares and other assets. If any assets are to be transferred to beneficiaries, we'll do that.
If we've had to place something called a "creditors' notice", we'll wait until the 2 month notice period has expired. If the Department for Work and Pensions has opened an enquiry against the estate, we'll deal with it (it can often take a long time - your personal estate adviser will keep you informed).
Paying debts. Selling the property.
If we have sufficient funds, we'll pay off the deceased's debts. We'll pay any "specific legacies" - specific sums of money or assets mentioned in the Will.
If we can, we'll make interim distributions to other beneficiaries (see Stage 4).
We'll sell the property or transfer it to beneficiaries. Your personal estate adviser handles this process, including liaising with estate agents and the buyers' solicitors.
Finalising legal work
Our specialist legal team will finalise any further legal work. That can include setting up Trusts created by the Will, producing statutory declarations and dealing with Cessate Grants. Your personal estate adviser will keep you up-to-date.
Finalising tax work
Our specialist tax team will complete the Income Tax return and submit it to HMRC. We'll confirm the final Inheritance Tax position and obtain 'clearance' from HMRC. We'll reclaim any overpaid Inheritance Tax.
We'll also pay any remaining debts.
Producing estate accounts
We'll produce full and final estate accounts and send them to you and all the beneficiaries. If you have any questions, we'll answer them.
Making a final distribution
We'll make a full and final distribution to beneficiaries. We'll return all original certificates and documents.
We'll close the file.