Our Probate Process

When we are instructed to help deal with the estate of a deceased person, our duty is to provide guidance and assistance to the Personal Representatives of the Deceased. It is very important that Personal Representatives are fully aware and understand their duties, so they can ensure that the correct procedures are followed and avoid any disputes or problems in the estate, which can often prove to be very costly.

Please find below what we consider to be the key milestones in the Probate process:-

Initial Meeting

We will have an initial meeting with the Personal Representatives to discuss the contents of any Will and ensure its terms are clearly understood. Whilst the beneficiaries are entitled to contact us for updates on the progress of the administration of the estate, they should understand this will incur time spent on the file and therefore we recommend the beneficiaries firstly contact the Personal Representatives with any queries.

We will also discuss the protection available to Personal Representatives to protect against any unknown debts of the deceased by the placing of public notices and liability searches where appropriate. We can also assist to ensure that there are no further additional assets of the estate by placing assets tracing searches and also assist with tracing missing Wills and beneficiaries. You can read our further considerations guide for more information on this.

We will generally be able to meet with you within 10 working days of you contacting us.

Collecting Information

The first step for us is to collect all information relating to the estate, and arranging valuations of property and any other assets at the date of death. We will need full details of the funeral costs along with information in relation to any credit cards, loans, HP agreements, and debts to members of the family and friends. Collecting all this information is anticipated to take at least 1 to 2 months in a standard estate.

Once we have obtained valuations of all the deceased’s assets and liabilities at the date of death, we will then be in a position to prepare the relevant inheritance forms and the application for the Grant of Representation. At this point, we will forward the inheritance tax form and application for the Grant of Representation to the Personal Representatives for approval. It is essential that the Personal Representatives consider this paperwork carefully and ensure that the information contained is accurate to the best of their knowledge. In particular, the Personal Representatives must ensure that no assets or liabilities have been omitted from the inheritance tax account, and we have been informed of any gifts made during the deceased lifetime.  

We will be able to calculate the amount of Inheritance Tax (if any) that is payable at this stage and discuss the methods available to settle any such tax.  

Collecting in Assets/Paying Liabilities

After the Personal Representatives have approved the inheritance tax account and probate application, the inheritance tax account may need to be firstly submitted to the HMRC and any inheritance due upon the estate paid. The application for the Grant of Representation can then be submitted to the Probate Registry. The Probate Registry usually then issues the Grant of Representation within approximately 3 weeks of receipt of the application. Once the Grant of Representation has been received the Personal Representatives will then have authority to collect in the assets, which may include bank balances, investments, life policies and the sale or transfer of any property.  

As well as property and other valuable possessions, things to be considered could include:-

  • Death in service benefits
  • Pensions/benefits and any over or under payments
  • Overpayment or underpayment of tax or welfare benefits
  • Final self-assessment tax return to finalise the deceased’s income position

Following the encashment or transfer of the assets and settlement of any outstanding debts of the estate, we will then prepare estate accounts for approval by the Personal Representatives and beneficiaries. These accounts will set out details of the assets and any liabilities, including any expenses (such as legal and other professional costs) incurred by the estate.

Distributing the estate

Once the estate accounts have been approved we will arrange the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries.

There is the possibility of assets in the estate being transferred to the beneficiaries rather than encashed. In some circumstances where there are a large number of beneficiaries then it is usually advisable for assets to be encashed for ease of administration. However, in certain circumstances, there may be assets that would be more sensibly transferred to the beneficiaries. 

The procedure for properly administering an estate can take approximately 9 to 12 months in total to fully complete in the majority of cases. The Personal Representatives should ensure the beneficiaries are mindful that they will not receive their inheritance immediately and to be flexible with their expectations. 

In conclusion

Many estates can be standard and straight-forward but many can also throw up complications and the unexpected as well as being fraught with family emotions.

It is possible to undertake the process yourself and the .Gov website can provide suitable guidance. However, if you feel at any point that the situation is overwhelming or run into any difficulties, please get in touch with us.

We have a team of caring and specialist professionals who have considerable experience in a dealing with a wide range of estates. We will talk you through the process from start to finish and be there to deal with any complications during what can be a difficult and emotional time.

For more information on our prices please click here.

 

  • Arwel Davies
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  • Mike Downey
      • Mike Downey
      • Director & Head of Lifetime Planning - South East Wales
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