Applying for probate can be a daunting task, but our specialists are here to make it feel simple. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about going through probate and dealing with someone’s estate.
A grant of probate is a formal legal document that allows the executors of an estate to deal with the banks, shareholdings and property of the person who has died. In order to apply for a grant of probate you need to submit an application to the Probate Registry.
Probate is usually required if the person who died had assets in his or her sole name worth over £5000, for example an ISA or shareholdings. Any property that was owned jointly can pass automatically to the survivor.
You may need to get a grant of probate if your spouse or civil partner owned assets in his/her sole name that are valued over £5000. Anything that is owed jointly with yourself you will not need to get probate for.
The people entitled to apply for a grant of probate are the executors that the person who has died has named in his or her will. If there is no will then it is usually a close family member who is able to apply, or the person who is the main beneficiary of the estate.
It can take anywhere between 1 and 6 months to apply for a grant of probate in the UK, depending on how complex the estate is and how many assets there are to deal with. Once you have got probate it can take up to another 6 months to close accounts, sell shares and property and deal with any outstanding taxes.
You will need to gather quite a bit of information about the person who has passed away before you can apply for probate. This includes details of bank accounts, investments and property. Kwil is able to assist you with this and you can also use our free interactive checklist to guide you along.
It is important to register the death of the person who has died at the Registry Office in the district where he or she passed away. This can now be done by appointment over the telephone, or you can attend in person. There is no charge to register a death but you should expect to pay £11 for each additional copy of the death certificate you require.
There are many firms and companies that offer probate services, so it is important to shop around to get the best value for money. You will need to determine whether you want full estate administration or just some assistance to help you get the grant of probate yourself.
The inheritance tax threshold for 2021/2022 has been set at £325,000 and this has now been frozen until 2026. Once the value of the estate exceeds £325,000 then inheritance tax is payable on the excess at 40%. However, it does not apply to every case and there are ways of mitigating the tax liability.
A grant of “letters of administration” is the equivalent legal document to a grant of probate and applies when someone dies without a will in place. It does the same thing as a grant of probate and allows the administrators of an estate to deal with all of the assets.
The Probate Registry is the court that deals with all matters relating to probate and it is responsible for issuing grants of probate and letters of administration. All applications for probate are sent to the Probate Registry.
You do not need to use a solicitor or a company to apply for probate. You are free to make an application yourself and it could save you money in doing so. Most people decide to get some assistance because probate can be a time consuming and complex process.
A grant of representation is the generic term for any formal document issued by the Probate Registry that allows an estate to be administered. Both a grant of probate and a grant of letters of administration are also known as grants of representation.
On the Law Society website you will be able to find a list of solicitors firms that specialise in probate work. If you do not want to spend the high fees that a solicitor will charge then call us for a cheaper quote.
If there is no will then the next of kin can apply for what is known as a grant of letters of administration. This is the equivalent of a grant of probate and will allow the estate to be administered in the same way.
Many people will keep their will at home alongside their other important documents like passports and bank statements. Otherwise, they may choose to keep their will at a solicitors firm or at a bank. If you cannot locate a will then it is also worth doing a search against the National Will Register.
An executor is responsible for winding up the estate of the person who has passed away. This is a fairly long task involving valuations of assets and liabilities as well as closing accounts and selling property and then distributing the money to the beneficiaries of the estate.
A deed of variation is a legal document that allows beneficiaries of an estate to change their entitlement to any of the assets. They can be a useful tool for tax mitigation but you must make sure that they are completed within the right time frame and that you get the right advice.
It is important to make sure that you obtain accurate valuations for all the assets of the person who has passed away. In the case of a property, you may need to consider instructing a surveyor or an estate agent to carry out a formal valuation of the property. Banks and building societies will provide free valuations on request.
The executor or administrator of an estate must ensure that all debts are paid out of assets of the estate before the beneficiaries can take their share. Beneficiaries are not liable for the debts of the person who has died.