Probate refers to the process of administering a Will. Technically it refers to the process of gaining permission to settle someone’s estate.
The person who is responsible for the distribution of the estate is called the Executor; they must apply for a Grant of Probate after the person in question has passed away. If you are the Executor you can choose to administer the Will yourself or seek professional help. If it is a particularly complex estate it may be wise to appoint a professional to act on your behalf.
The Five Phases
The administration of a will can be divided into five phases from determining the value of the estate to the distribution of it.
Firstly, all of the deceased’s assets will be identified in order to determine the value of the estate. Enlist the help of a professional solicitor to guide you through the process from start to finish.
After the initial identification has taken place you must then pay any Inheritance Tax to HMRC. If the estate is valued below £325,000 there will be no tax to pay but anything over the threshold is taxed at 40%. There are some exceptions to this in the case of charitable contributions.
After the tax return has been processed you are eligible to apply to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation, confirming the legal right to administer the estate.
Following the Grant of Representation being issued, the liquidation of the deceased’s assets can begin. Any further administrative expenses are paid at this stage including Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax due to or from the estate.
Alongside the liquidation process, all payments into or out of the estate must be recorded with a balance shown for what is left to distribute amongst the beneficiaires.
If there are no contestations to probate and the accounts have been approved then the final phase of distributing the assets will go ahead.
The Probate process can be lengthy but following the right advice from a professional Probate solicitor will ensure you have no bumps along the way.