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What is Probate?

When someone passes away, assuming that they have made a Will, they would have nominated an Executor. Before the executor can start the process of identifying assets, liabilities and the disbursement of the estate in accordance with the Will they must first apply for a Grant of Representation from the Probate office. The Grant of Representation legally allows the Executor to act on behalf of the deceased. If there was no Will present or the courts deemed that the executor was not a fit and proper person (i.e. have a criminal record) then the courts will appoint an executor. This cost will be added as a debt to the deceased estate due to their intervention. They will be supplied with a Letter of Administration. The executors have to:
  • Understand the Will and its contents
  • Gather details of all liabilities and assets
  • Apply for the Grant of probate or confirmation
  • Complete HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) documents
  • Obtain and value all of the assets
  • Locate Beneficaries
  • Pay all relevant taxes. This includes but not limited to: Inheritance, Income and Capital Gains taxes.
  • Make sure all liabilities and expenses are paid off
  • Distribute or the transfer of the relevant assets
  • Prepare all relevant accounts
Being an executor is a time consuming task that carries considerable risk. If not done properly, it can cause unnecessary costs and delays to the deceased estate. On average probate takes between 3 to 9 months but it is not uncommon for the whole process to take even longer and end up costing thousands of pounds. The executor must take care to:
  • Ensure assets remain insured and in good repair whilst probate is going through
  • Manage assets wisely
  • Not sell assets too cheaply
  • Pay all debts and taxes before disbursing the residue to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will
  • Not over pay one beneficiary at the expense of another.
The executor also runs the risk of being personally liable for the tax due on any assets that were either not found at the time or were intentionally not declared and all disbursement have been made. It is also prudent for the executor to advertise the death to allow potential creditors to come forward. Should the executor not do this then the creditor will have the right to sue them. As you can see it is imperative you consult your proposed executor first to ensure they are happy to undertake this role.

Professional Executors

Due to the potential risks to loved ones or close friends, we highly recommend that people consider using a professional executor. Professional Executors are highly skilled and experienced therefore the whole process will be quicker. They also and more importantly are insured against any potential litigation or non payment of debts. This absolves loved ones not only from the stress but also removes the risk of causing them serious financial hardship which may affect their quality of life. Cost: 1.75% of the Gross Estate Min fee £1000 (Plus disbursement and VAT)

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