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Probate

 

Probate Meaning

A grant of representation can sometimes be known as a ‘grant of probate’, ‘letters of administration’ or ‘letters of administration with a will’.

The terms ‘Grant of Probate’ and ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ mean a legal document issued by a section of Her Majesty’s Court Service to the Personal Representatives of a deceased’s estate.  The Grant gives the Personal Representatives the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate.  If the deceased left a Will the Personal Representatives are referred to as ‘Executors’ in the Will. If the deceased died without a Will the Personal Representatives will normally be one or more members of the family of the deceased who are entitled to inherit the estate under the intestacy rules.

The duties of Personal Representatives are to collect in the assets of the deceased and then pay off any debts, taxes, funeral expenses, any other liabilities and administrative expenses. If the deceased left a Will the Personal Representatives then distribute the estate according to the terms of the Will. If the deceased did not leave a Will the Personal Representatives will need to distribute the estate to those individuals entitled under the intestacy rules.

A Personal Representative will need to ensure that the estate is administered and distributed accurately to avoid liability from anyone who may have an interest in the estate. At Towns Needham Solicitors, we recognise that Personal Representatives may need assistance with their responsibility especially at a distressing time.  Towns Needham Solicitors can assist Personal Representatives with the administration of an Estate from obtaining probate valuations, determining the size of an estate, potential tax liabilities, obtaining a Grant from the Court and distributing the estate to beneficiaries. We can also undertake the transfer of any shares and handle the sale or transfer of any property or land owned by the deceased. We can offer a full service or a service limited to those particular areas which a Personal Representative may need assistance with.

Probate Steps

  1. Check if there’s a will - this normally states who sorts out the estate. If there’s no will the next of kin can apply.

  2. Apply to get a ‘grant of representation’ - this gives you the legal right to access things like the person’s bank account.

  3. Value the estate and report it to HMRC.

  4. Pay any Inheritance Tax that’s due.

  5. Collect the estate’s assets, for example money from the sale of the person’s property.

  6. Pay any debts, for example unpaid utilities bills.

  7. Distribute the estate - this means giving any property, money or possessions to the people entitled to it (‘beneficiaries’).

 

How long does it take to get the grant of probate?

On average, you can expect to receive a Grant of Probate 14 days after the Registry receives your application. As an Executor, you can then register your Grant of Probate with all of the financial institutions associated with the Estate in order to start dealing with the deceased's assets.

Probate Fees

We can deal with every aspect of the estate administration from start to finish. The work will generally include the following stages:

  • Registering the death with the relevant institutions.

  • Assessing the value of the Estate including all assets and liabilities and identifying any potential issues

  • Determining whether inheritance tax is payable and preparing the appropriate Inland Revenue Account

  • Applying for a Grant of Representation either a Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (where there is no Will).

  • Sending copies of the Grant to the relevant financial institutions in order to collect in the estate monies to pay the debts and any legacies
    under the Will.

  • Obtaining confirmation from the Inland Revenue that no further income tax or inheritance tax is due.

  • Preparing and finalising the Estate Accounts for the executors and residuary
    beneficiaries’ approval and distributing the residue to the residuary beneficiaries.

  • Provision of Estate Income (R185) forms.

We will provide a best estimate of fees based on the information provided by you as to how much work will be required to complete
the estate administration. 

The exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there are multiple
beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts the costs are likely to be higher than an estate with only one beneficiary and limited assets.

  • By way of an example, a straightforward estate will take between 10 - 12 hours work at £200.00 plus VAT per hour. The total costs are therefore
    estimated at £2,000.00 - £24000.00 plus VAT. A straightforward estate is where:

  • There is a valid will 

  • There is no more than one property

  • There are no more than 5 bank or building society accounts

  • There are no other intangible or digital assets

  • There are no more than 5 UK beneficiaries

  • There are no overseas assets

  • There are no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets. If disputes arise this is likely to lead to an increase in costs

  • There is no inheritance tax payable and the executors do not need to submit a full account to HMRC

  • There are no claims made against the estate e.g from the Department of Work and Pensions

  • There is no family or any other ongoing trust

  • The testators tax affairs are settled to the end of the last tax year before death

Potential additional costs

If an estate has any of the following features it is likely to be more complex than a straight forward matter and therefore likely to result
in more time being spent on the issues. The costs are likely to be higher in matters where:

  • There is no will

  • Professional executors are appointed

  • The estate consists of any share holdings (stocks and bonds)

  • The estate includes foreign assets

  • The estate includes a family or other ongoing trust

  • The estate is taxable and requires the submission of a full inheritance tax account. 

  • The testator is non-UK domicile

  • Any one or more of the beneficiaries are non-UK domicile

  • There is more than one property

  • Property is unregistered

  • The property is not local 

  •  The estate comprises a business

  • The estate includes agricultural land

  • Where property and/or land is subject to an existing tenancy.

  • There are charitable beneficiaries

  • There are intangible or digital assets

  • There are disputes between the beneficiaries on division of assets.

  • The are claims against the estate including claims made by the Department of Work and Pensions

  • The estate is insolvent

We will provide you with a more accurate estimate once we have more information regarding the nature of the estate. 

Additional Expenses 

These are sometimes called disbursements. These are additional costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court
fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. 

Some of the most common types of disbursements in probate matters are as follows:

  • Probate application fee of £155.00 plus £0.50 for each additional sealed office copy of the Grant of Probate (usually one per asset)

  •  £5.00 Swearing of the oath (per executor) plus £2.00 for each additional exhibit (i.e. for an Oath and a Will the oath swear fee will be £7.00)

  • Bankruptcy- Land Charges Department searches (£2.00 per beneficiary)

  • Statutory Advertisement of between £200.00 - £300.00 plus VAT (The London Gazette – and a local newspaper) to protect against unexpected
    claims from unknown creditors.

  •  Land Registry fees for dealing with the assent of a property

Dealing with the sale of any property in the estate is not included in the above fees and will be charged separately in accordance with our residential
conveyancing fees.

How long does it take for probate to be completed?

On average, a straightforward estate is dealt with within 12 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 3-4 months.
Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 1-2 months. Once this has been done, we can proceed with the winding up procedure
including distribution of the estate, which normally takes 2-3 months.

 

Towns Needham

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