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What is Probate?

Probate is a document that is applied for by the Personal Representatives of a deceased person’s (the testator) estate which gives the Representatives the legal power to manage the estate and ensure the assets are distributed according to the Will of the deceased. The Personal Representatives are known as the Executors when the deceased left a Will, or where there is no Will, the Personal Representatives must instead apply for Letters of Administration to administer the estate.

On the testator’s death, it is the duty of the testator’s executors to administer the estate. In order to collect assets, pay liabilities (including taxes) and distribute the estate in accordance with the will, it is usually necessary for executors to obtain a grant of probate.

How Long Does Probate Take?

The time-scale for dealing with the affairs of someone who has passed away depends on what assets are involved, how complex the estate is and how well documented the details are. If everything is relatively straightforward, it takes around one month before an application to the Probate Registry can be submitted. The process involves the executors’ confirming that they are willing to act and, having previously obtained details of the assets, liabilities and any tax due in an estate, swearing a prescribed form of oath containing these details.

Usually a Grant of Probate is issued with 2-3 weeks after this date. Many organisations may be involved in the process, for example, banks, building societies, insurance companies and Depending on the size and nature of the estate, it may also be necessary to give details of it to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Is Probate Always Granted?

No. Probate is not given in cases where the will is disputed or deemed invalid, for example, due to no signature or unreliable witnesses. Often, if an earlier will has been made, probate could be granted for this version instead.

What Is The Probate Process?

Our professional probate solicitors are here to make the probate process as simple and cost-effective as possible for you, enabling you to fulfil your duties as a personal representative as well as maximise the value of the estate.

As a guide, the probate process usually involves 5 steps:

  1. Value Assets and Liabilities
    Immediately following the person’s death, all assets must be found and valued by the personal representatives. This includes land, property, vehicles, shares, businesses and personal items. For the high-value items, it’s important to use professionals – a trusted surveyor should value land and property for you; a stockbroker should assess any shares; and the individual’s accountant should be able to advise you on the worth of any businesses owned by the deceased.
    The same assessments made for assets should be made for liabilities too. This includes any mortgages, credit cards, loans and unpaid bills.
  2. Tell the Tax Man
    Once the assets and liabilities have been assessed, you need to fill in an Inheritance Tax Return. This needs to be done even if there is no inheritance tax due. Your probate solicitor will complete this for you .
  3. Apply for a Grant of Representation
    At this point, you need to submit a Grant of Representation request to the Probate Registry. To find your nearest Probate Registry, visit https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/search/postcode?aol=Probate
  4. Pay the Tax Man
    Your probate solicitor will be able to help with negotiations with HMRC regarding how much tax is due and help you achieve a reasonable outcome. Tax has to be paid within six months of the individual’s death. We would also calculate whether any income tax is due to or from the estate during the process
  5. Gather and Distribute
    Once you’ve been issued a Grant of Representation, you can handle the assets and liabilities. This includes selling assets and holding money for beneficiaries, as well as settling liabilities from the funds of the estate.The beneficiaries can then receive their inheritance, or it may be money is kept in trusts if the beneficiaries are children.

Do I Need A Probate Solicitor?

A probate solicitor will be able to advise and support you at every stage of the process, helping you complete all necessary forms and documentation in an accurate and timely fashion. Furthermore, a probate solicitor can help with negotiations between family and friends, should there be any disputes during the process, as well as with HMRC to arrange the inheritance tax settlement owed, and set up trusts if needed.

While you can handle the probate process without a probate solicitor, these are just some of the benefits of using a professional:

  • Legal expertise
  • Assistance with will disputes
  • Assistance with disputes between family and friends
  • Help with HMRC negotiations
  • Help with valuations
  • Help with all forms

How Much Will You Charge To Help With The Probate Process?

Our legal fees are always competitively priced to ensure our clients receive value for money and we always ensure that our fees are fair and proportionate to our Clients. We operate in a straightforward, transparent way, we are always upfront about our costs and will advise you before going ahead.

We are here to support you throughout the entire probate process, to make it as stress-free and productive as possible for you.

For further information on our wills, trusts and probate services, please contact our specialist team at Bartletts Solicitors today on Freephone 0800 988 3674 or email advice@bartletts.co.uk

 

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