What is Probate and Estate Administration?
A person’s ‘Estate’ comprises everything they owned at the date of their death, subject to any debts / liabilities owed by them. Estate administration is the process whereby the relevant person (“the Personal Representative”) deals with the Estate in the appropriate way, which will include: –
- Collecting in the assets due to the estate
- Paying any funeral expenses and other liabilities owed by the deceased person (the Deceased)
- Dealing with any Inheritance Tax (IHT) reporting required and paying any IHT due
- Distributing the Estate in the correct way.
If there is a Will, the Personal Representative will be the Executor named in the Will. Depending upon the assets and the circumstances of the Estate, a Grant of Probate may be required (see below) and the Executor must apply for this.
If there is no Will, the Personal Representative is identified by the Rules of Intestacy and will be known as the Administrator. These Rules also set out who inherits the Estate where there is no Will. In this instance the Grant (if required) is called a “Grant of Letters of Administration” instead of a Grant of Probate – their use is the same and both are often referred to as “Probate”.
Is a Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration needed?
It is usually necessary to apply for a Grant if the person who died owned a property.
Banks and other financial institutions may also ask for a Grant before they will release the funds they are holding.
There may also be other reasons why it would be wise to apply for a Grant. Personal Representatives have certain obligations and a Grant can afford them protection from liability in certain circumstances when administering the Estate.
What does the Probate / Letters of Administration process involve?
An IHT Account will need to be prepared, either in short form if the Estate is below the IHT threshold and meets other requirements, or a full Account will need to be submitted to HMRC. Any IHT due must be paid and ultimately agreed with HMRC. The Account will set out the value of the estate at the date of death.
An application to the Probate Registry will then need to be made by the Personal Representative who will declare the true information of the Estate.
The Probate Registry will assess the application and issue either a Grant of Probate validating the Will if there is one, or a Grant of Letters of Administration appointing the Administrator if there is not.
The Grant can then be used to collect in the assets due to the estate and sell any property, if required.
Why use DFA Law?
The team at DFA Law have many years’ experience of dealing with estate administration and our aim is to deal with all matters sympathetically and efficiently.
We do not have to be named as executors in a Will to administer the estate. If you are an executor who simply needs some guidance, or if you would like us to handle the administration in its entirety, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be able to help you.