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What is estate administration?

Every estate must be administered. However, the tasks involved can vary depending on the estate.

What is meant by administration of an estate?

Estate administration refers to the process of dealing with all of a deceased individual’s assets, debts, and taxes before distributing inheritance to the beneficiaries. This must be done in accordance with the wishes in the Will (if applicable). However, even estates where the deceased passed away without a Will need to be administered.

The estate consists of all assets (possessions, property, money, savings, investments, pensions, and anything else owned) minus debts and taxes. Once this has been finalised, estate accounts can be produced, and the final value can be distributed to the beneficiaries; this is the final step of the estate administration process.

What could be involved in estate administration?

There is a wide range of tasks to be completed during the estate administration process and every estate is different, which makes it hard to predict what will be involved. When instructing Kings Court Trust, we will take care of every step on your behalf. This could include:


Gathering information

We'll contact banks, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), creditors, and other financial institutions. We'll let them know we're acting on your behalf and ask for date-of-death valuations.


Preparing tax forms and applying for probate

Our tax team will prepare the relevant tax forms. We'll also apply for the Grant of Probate (or Confirmation in Scotland). We can do this in our name and take on the legal and financial liability.


Closing accounts

Once we've received the Grant of Probate we'll send it to banks, mortgage companies, and anywhere else the deceased had an account, policy, or debt that require a copy of the Grant. We'll close these accounts and collect in the funds.

Legal work

Completing the legal work

If the Will contains a Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trust, we'll write to the Trustees. Our legal team will then work on Trusts within the Will, property transfers, and other legal tasks like statutory declarations or dealing with Cessate Grants.

Assets and debtss

Selling and transferring assets and paying debts

We'll sell any shares and assets within the UK and advise on overseas assets. If there are assets to be transferred to beneficiaries, we'll organise it. If we have sufficient funds, we'll pay off the debts and make interim distributions to other beneficiaries. 

Valuing Assets@2x-2

Selling property

The home can be the most valuable part of an estate, financially and emotionally. To deal with this crucial process, we work with specialist partners to help you achieve the best price as quickly as possible and manage the legal requirements of selling or transferring a property.

Tax work

Finalising tax work

Our 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 and pay any outstanding debts.

Estate accounts

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 will answer them.

Who deals with estate administration?

If there is a Will, there should be a named Executor. They will be responsible for administering the estate or instructing a professional provider to undertake the work on their behalf. Additionally, they will be named on the Grant of Probate, which gives them the authority to deal with the estate.

If there is no Will, the estate is known as intestate. An Administrator will be appointed to deal with the estate administration – this is usually the deceased’s next of kin.

Related content:

What is the difference between an Executor and Administrator?

The only difference between an Executor and an Administrator is that Executors are named in the Will and Administrators are appointed in cases of intestacy. They have the same role, responsibilities, and liabilities.

The umbrella term for Executors and Administrators is Personal Representatives.

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Can an Executor or Administrator be a beneficiary?

The Personal Representative can be a beneficiary – in fact, it’s quite common for the person administering the estate to also be the main beneficiary. It is also acceptable to name an Executor who will not benefit from the Will. The main consideration when choosing an Executor is whether they can be trusted to administer the estate competently and according to the deceased’s wishes.

However, it’s worth noting that the witnesses of a Will cannot also be beneficiaries. Their spouses also cannot benefit. If a beneficiary is named in the Will and also witnessed it, the Will remains valid, but they will no longer be entitled to their inheritance.

What to do if you've been named as an Executor

The Executor role is not one to be taken lightly; the person(s) responsible are financially and legally liable for administering the deceased’s estate or instructing a legal professional to do so on their behalf. During the drafting of a Will, up to four individuals can be named as Executors. Therefore, the estate administration work can be shared amongst the nominated individuals. It’s worth noting that an individual is under no legal obligation to fulfil the role of an Executor when the time arises. It is an unpaid role, but Executors can be reimbursed for reasonable expenses from the estate.

If you are named as an Executor, you should consider your options; do you have the time and ability to complete the complex paperwork and processes involved in estate administration, or would it be best to instruct a professional?

If you’d like free, impartial advice on the next steps, please contact us.

What are the responsibilities of an Executor or Administrator?

The Personal Representative is responsible for every aspect of administering the estate. This can include applying for probate (if required), identifying and settling all debts, paying any Inheritance Tax due (if applicable), finalising other taxes, ensuring the correct distribution of all assets, and much more.

However, they can choose to instruct a professional provider if they do not wish to undertake the estate administration process.

Kings Court Trust is an award-winning estate administration provider. We offer solutions to support every family and can complete all of the tasks involved in the process after being appointed by the named Executor or Administrator, relinquishing them of the legal and financial responsibility associated with the role.

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What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a legal document that gives the Executor the legal right to proceed with estate administration. Probate is not always required, but it will generally be needed in cases where the deceased had solely owned assets or property. It is likely not required if the assets are jointly owned, as they will automatically pass to the surviving owner. Also, if the estate is low in value, most financial institutions will release funds below £5,000 without a Grant of Probate.

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What is the difference between probate and estate administration?

Whilst probate is not always required, estate administration is always necessary, regardless of the complexity or value of the estate. Therefore, the difference between the two terms is that probate is just one potential part of the wider estate administration process.

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Who can be an Administrator of an estate?

The Administrator is appointed according to the rules of intestacy, which lists those related to the deceased in order of priority to handle the role. The person at the top of this list will have the right to apply to be the Administrator – this is often the individual’s spouse or civil partner. However, they can also ask someone to administer the estate on their behalf, such as a professional provider. The Administrator or professional handling the estate may need a Grant of Letters of Administration.

What are Letters of Administration?

Letters of Administration give the Administrator the same rights to administer the estate as a Grant of Probate does. Both documents provide the Personal Representative with permission to move forward with the administration of the estate.

Who can apply for Letters of Administration?

The Administrator is responsible for applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry using form PA1A. They will then have the authority to handle the estate including bank accounts, property, and any necessary Inheritance Tax forms. Similar to a Grant of Probate, some financial institutions do not require Letters of Administration to release funds if they are below their individual threshold.

Who pays the beneficiaries of a Will?

Beneficiaries will be paid their inheritance out of the estate. The Personal Representative is responsible for managing this. However, this is the last task that should be undertaken after estate accounts have been produced so that the beneficiaries are receiving their full entitlement and can understand how the estate has been distributed.

What assets are not considered part of an estate?

Some assets may not be included in the final estate value because they have been paid out previously. For example, life insurance or assurance policies that are written in Trust are paid directly to the beneficiaries and do not normally go into the estate at any point. However, if the policy does not name the beneficiaries, probate could still be required.

This is similar for any asset that is placed into a Trust during lifetime – it will likely never go into the estate. In this instance, the Trustees of the policy can choose who to pay out the money to, and they do not need to pay it into the estate first. Again, this depends on the type of policy and who is named.

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How long does it take to administer an estate?

It is difficult to predict exactly how long estate administration will take. Each estate is unique, and unexpected interruptions or difficulties could delay the process. However, as it is a process that involves a lot of administrative tasks and legal paperwork, it should be expected that it will take months rather than weeks. When a Grant of Probate is required, there may be additional delays from the Probate Registry, as stopped applications and internal backlogs can cause difficulties.

What can be done before estate administration?

Some tasks should be completed before administration can begin – this could involve probate and Inheritance Tax (if applicable), but also includes:

  • Obtaining a medical certificate to confirm the cause of death
  • Registering the death with a register office – this should be done within 5 days in England and Wales or 8 days in Scotland
  • Notifying family and friends of the death – this is not a legal requirement, but it is encouraged
  • Notifying other relevant parties such as the deceased’s employer, educational establishments, social services, and care providers (if applicable)
  • Locating the Will and other important documents
  • Arranging the funeral

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How much does a Solicitor charge to administer an estate?

Some Solicitors and probate specialists charge an hourly rate, whereas others calculate a fee that’s a percentage of the estate value. This is usually between 1% and 5% of the value of the estate (plus VAT).

Certain probate specialists will provide a fixed fee to administer an estate. This will be based on the work involved and the complexity of the case. Kings Court Trust works in this way, providing a fixed, upfront quote so that you have full transparency and can make an informed decision.

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How can Kings Court Trust help with estate administration?

Whether you want to retain control of the probate application process or hand the entire estate administration process over to a professional, we have the solution to support you.

Option one


Obtain the Grant of Probate

£995 (excluding VAT & probate fee)

Learn more
Option two


Includes collecting in and distributing up to three assets, or transferring them to up to two beneficiaries. An asset does not include property.

£1,495 (excluding VAT & probate fee)

Learn more
Option three


1. Grant and transfer of property

2. Grant and Trust of property

3. Grant and Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trust

Each option has a fee of £1,995 (excluding VAT & probate fee)

Learn more
Option four


We will complete the full process of estate administration taking on the legal and financial responsibility to do this. From dealing with all assets (such as property, shares, and personal possessions), paying debts, paying any Inheritance Tax and Income Tax, and transferring inheritance to the beneficiaries of the estate.

From £2,340 (excluding VAT
& third-party costs)

Learn more


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