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October 6th 2017 / BY: Wisteria

Wisteria’s Guide to the Probate Process

Dealing with the passing of a loved one, or a friend is never an easy time for anybody, but what’s more annoying and frustrating is when things start to drag on or when there is uncertainty around what should happen and what to do next.

Probate is one of those things that can be extremely complicated to get your head around, and can also be a time consuming process. In addition to this, during periods of grieving, paperwork tends to be the last thing on anybody’s mind.

Here we hope to map out what should happen in a simplified manner so that you can have some peace of mind during what is normally a difficult period.

Probate Requirements Step-by-step

  • Once the individual has passed away, it is normal procedure to obtain multiple copies of the death certificate which is issued by the hospital / funeral directors which confirm the death (this also helps to reduce the cost of administering the estate at a later date).
  • Arrange the funeral / ceremony to celebrate the life of the deceased – this will be once the death has been registered.
  • You will also need to complete the Tell Us Once procedure on the Gov website which will issue with an automatic reference – this will also inform most of the government authorities in one go to reduce the amount of work for you.
  • Locate a Will if applicable and from there, work with a solicitor or accountant to determine if a grant of probate is required or whether an application for letters of administration will be required – this can be a lengthy process as it will involve you and your accountant / solicitor obtaining information regarding the deceased’s estate, family and beneficiaries to determine the likely Inheritance Tax Liability payable.
  • During this period, many other organisations (banks, pension providers, utility bill providers for example) will need to be notified of the death so that they can make arrangements to cease providing services where necessary.
  • A separate bank account for the deceased may need to be completed so that any funds / assets (such as cash) can be held separately and kept safe until they need to be distributed to beneficiaries as per the Will.
  • In addition to the above, a number of forms (such as a PA1 and IHT400 or IHT 205) may need to be completed with the associated probate fees paid to apply for the grant of probate or letters of administration to HMRC and the relevant probate department – normally your accountant / solicitor would deal with this.
  • Once HMRC and the relevant probate department are satisfied of the forms submitted, fees paid and IHT liability paid (usually within 6 months from the end of the month in which the deceased passed away) they will normally grant the executors probate – this will enable them to realise, gather and dispose of the assets (as required) and carry out the intentions of the deceased as per the Will.
  • Upon gathering of the assets etc. as per the Will, the executors of the Will can then distribute the assets of the deceased as according to the instruction and wishes of the deceased.
  • It should also be noted that a tax return for the individual and estate may or may not be required (depending on the circumstances) and will normally be required until the grant of probate is obtained and the assets have all been distributed to the relevant beneficiaries.

As you can see, probate is not an simple straight forward process and often takes many months to years to complete – as such, it is often recommended that for complicated estates that a solicitor or accountant is adopted. This will help take the administrative burden and hassle away from you.

If you want more information and advice regarding probate and how Wisteria can help, please contact their probate and estate administration experts on 020 8429 9245 or email info@wisteria.co.uk.