apply for probate

Dealing with Scottish Probate


 After a person dies, as an executor you will be expected to obtain a Grant of Confirmation, which will be required by banks, insurance companies and creditors in order to freeze bank accounts and any balance on debts.  It is your job as executor to ensure that all payments are made, debts settled and taxes paid before beginning to distribute any of the assets.

Should the deceased only have left a small estate – usually under £30,000 including property and valuables, a Grant of Confirmation may not be required.

Inheritance Tax laws also apply in Scotland, where the Sheriff Court will require a valuation of all assets, in order to calculate how much Inheritance Tax should be paid.

Only after all tax has been paid and outstanding debts settled, can the remainder of the estate begin to be distributed according to the contents of the will.

If you’re unsure of how the Scottish probate process works and you’d like more information, contact a professional probate practitioner with experience in this area.  A Grant of Probate issued in the Uk is very different to a Grant of Confirmation

The role of several executors

 

We all know that it is the executor of a will who ensures that all outstanding debts and taxes are paid on a deceased’s estate, before distributing the remaining assets as instructed by the will.

However, what happens when, as is so often the case, several executors have been nominated by the deceased?

Legally, up to four executors can in fact be identified, although they are not obliged to take up the role.

The democratic route is of course to agree on all actions taken during the probate process, although this can slow the whole procedure down considerably and give rise to disagreements.

A more efficient route is for all executors to identify and nominate one trusted individual to take charge and see that the probate process is carried out correctly.

In either instance, it is always advised that open, prompt and honest communication is the key to settling the deceased’s estate most quickly, accurately and with the minimum of stress and fuss.

What happens if beneficiaries die?

It is more common than one might think, that a beneficiary named in a will, dies before the writer of that will.

In this instance, should the beneficiary have been their adult child, then that person’s claim to the estate is automatically passed to their children.  If there are no direct grandchildren in existence (children of the deceased) or the beneficiary wasn’t their child, then any nominated assets are absorbed back into the estate.

Some more detailed wills, anticipate this scenario and add further instructions, often stating that if the beneficiary dies before the person, then their share of the assets will pass to another named individual.

The key to avoiding complications during the probate process is to ensure that the will is drawn up correctly and without ambiguity in the first place.  This involves careful wording and additional clauses where necessary.

Want to ensure all the estate’s debts have been paid?

 

The role of executor brings with it a whole host of legal and moral responsibilities.  Knowledge or experience of the probate process is extremely useful but for a first time executor, the pitfalls of ensuring that all debts are paid can be hazardous.

The first stage of the process is to go through all the deceased’s paperwork to pinpoint any outstanding bills, creditors, bank accounts, savings accounts and funds.  Monetary gifts or additional income can often be identified through bank statements and will need to be declared to HMRC.

Next, turn your attention to their home.  We often advise that it’s best to bring in a professional home valuation team, who can value the entire contents much more accurately and quickly than an executor.

If you’re not sure of what income they received and regular outgoings, then it may be wise to ask someone closer to the deceased who might have more information.  An excellent defence tactic is to advertise in the press for anyone who feels they may have a claim to the estate.

Of course, all this takes time and effort, so we always recommend that executors use the services of a professional probate practitioner, who can shoulder the burden of this often enormous and stressful task.

Do you have the time & skills to apply for probate and administer an estate?

In order to answer this question in the first place you must be named as an executor in the will. If you have not been named, or the will does not contain the name of an executor that can perform this function, then you must be a relative or spouse of the deceased.
 
If you are asked to act as an executor then it’s essential you are comfortable with the position. Many people ask themselves whether they have the skills and the time required to fulfil their duties.
 
To apply for probate there are a number of forms that need to be completed and submitted to the Probate Registry.  This part of the process is relatively straightforward and so long as you are equipped with some basic form filling skills you should have no problems.  The real question is whether or not you can manage the process once you have received the Grant of Probate which allows you to administer the estate.
 
There are many complex aspects to this part of the process and the single overarching factor involved is time. Obviously each case is unique and there are many simple estates with a small amount of assets and few beneficiaries.
 
These will take less time to manage than a more complex estate, but if you are the type of person who leads a busy life, and time is at a premium for you, then you may not have the freedom required to apply for probate. Before you embark on the process you must have a clear timetable and ensure that you will be able to commit the required number of hours to the process to see it through.
 
In addition to good time management there are many other skills that you are required to have. You will need to be disciplined about completing and storing documentation and have the ability to communicate with all of the stakeholders involved.
 
Money management skills are imperative as you may have to deal with lots of different banks, building societies, insurance companies, mortgage lenders and realtors as part of the process.
 
Sometimes, the best thing to do is get some professional advice and find a service that will handle the process for you. There are many alternatives to choose from and if you would like some advice on how to apply call free on 0800 612 6105 for further information.

General Advice on Applying for Probate

The first step in establishing who is responsible for applying for probate is to find the will. This is not always straightforward and in some cases, even when the will has been located, there may be some significant problems.
 
A considerable number of wills, particularly those that have been created with a DIY solution, have key information missing. They may contain instructions about property and possessions as well as funeral wishes, but not include the name of an executor. In some cases the will might contain the name of an executor who is unable to perform that duty and might not contain the name of a substitute executor. If this is the case then this responsibility usually falls to the next-of-kin who must apply for a grant of Letters of Administration.
 
If a good will has been made and located that names an executor who is able to perform this duty the next stage in the process is applying for a Grant of Probate. This must be done by submitting the correct application forms to the Probate Registry. Two forms are required at this stage; a Probate Application Form – PA1 and an Inheritance Tax Form.
 
There are 2 separate inheritance tax forms that may need to be completed. If the estate is greater in value than£325,000 then the executor must submit the IHT400 and IHT421 forms to the Probate Registry for inheritance tax. If the value of the estate is less than this amount then it is deemed to be exempt, but the executor is required to submit the IHT205 with the probate application.
 
Anyone can apply for a Grant of Probate, but in the majority of cases this is done via a solicitor. If you are going to employ a solicitor to perform this function it is important that you get a clear outline of costs. Most solicitors will charge an hourly rate and if there are any problems with paperwork, or delays in the process, it will increase the costs involved.
 
It is not necessary to instruct a solicitor to perform this function and increasing numbers of people are turning to professional probate practitioners who will perform the whole process of applying and administering the estate for one fixed cost.
If you have any questions about, why not call the free probate helpline on 0800 612 6105

Making an Application for Probate – The Basics

When a person dies it is a legal requirement that their estate has to be administered. This means all their assets must be collected together, and all of their debts must be paid. Once this has been done what is left over may be distributed to those people who are entitled to it. The process of the administration of an estate is called Probate.
The administration of an estate is carried out by 'Executors' who may also be known as 'Personal Representatives'. If the deceased left a will, it normally contains the names one or more executors. In some cases they might be friends or family. In other cases this task may be entrusted to a professional, such a solicitor, or a Probate Practitioner. It is the first task of the executor to apply for Probate.
 
Probate is the authority, given by the court, to a person or persons to administer an estate. The document which is issued by the Probate Service allowing this is called a Grant of Representation, or Grant of Probate. When there is more than one executor it is essential that all delegated parties work well together to decide what needs to be done, as disagreements can lead to delays which may be expensive.
 
There are several steps in the Application for Probate. These may differ depending on the size and nature of the estate.
 
The first step is one of preparation. This involves the registration of death and obtaining all the relevant documents. Then the executor must ascertain the values of any assets and check for liabilities. At this stage all of the beneficiaries must be contacted and any initial enquiries to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) should be made.
 
The next step is the preparation and submission of Inheritance Tax forms and the application form for the Grant of Probate. Once the Grant of Probate has been received it must be registered with all of the asset holders.
 
Once these steps have been complete the executor may begin with the collection of assets and complete any outstanding income tax affairs such as dealing with Inheritance Tax. They may also begin with the payment of smaller legacies.
 
For further information with regard to the an Application for Probate call the free advice line 0800 612 6105

First steps when applying for probate

Initial Actions
The first step in an application for probate is to contact your local Probate Registry for information and advice. They will have a Personal Application Department with staff that will help with the required forms and procedures to assist with the ‘Grant of Probate’, or letters of administration. After that you will have to carry out any remaining administration yourself.
 
The Capital Taxes Office, which is a branch of HM Revenue and Customs, can help in cases where Inheritance Tax is payable. When dealing with tax it is imperative that you do not make any mistakes, or omissions, as these could have financial consequences that will fall on your shoulders.
 
If you are undertaking the probate application process yourself you must have a clear understanding of what you are doing and all of your obligations. If you are unsure then why not call our probate free helpline on 0800 612 6105?

Next Steps
If you are undertaking the application process yourself then the second step is to obtain copies of the death certificate. It is a legal requirement that all deaths are registered. At this point the person registering the death, known as the informant, will receive a death certificate. The informant is usually a relative of the deceased who:
 
·         was present at the death
·         was present during the last illness
·         who lives in close proximity to where the death occurred
·         or a person (not a relative) who was present at the time of death
 
An informant can be an administrator, or executor. If you are administrator or executor, but not the informant, then you are required to ask the informant to obtain three copies of the death certificate when registering the death. Each copy of the certificate will cost £3.50. This should be done at the point of registration as obtaining copies at a later date is more complicated and expensive.
 
Establish Authority
The next step in applying for probate is to establish from the will that you have the authority to act as executor, either by yourself, or in conjunction with someone else. If you are a joint executor you must decide what each person involved is going to do. This must be agreed and signed by both executors. Even when the responsibilities have been divided both executors are required to sign all of the probate documents and claim forms.
 
After the application is complete and the roles have been established you will need to start administering the estate. If the deceased has left a deed box this is a good place to start. Here you should find important documents relating to insurance, savings and property. You should set up your own file for of all of the information and communication involved in the process.

17 situations when it’s best to use a professional to apply for probate

A small minority of families apply for probate themselves. This course of action can only realistically be considered if you have both the time and the management skills required. Although it can give you the kind of satisfaction that is to be gained from taking responsibility for completing the financial affairs of the deceased, this decision should not be taken lightly. The application process can become very complex and unless it is a simple estate it can take between 6 and 9 months to complete.
 
Individuals applying for probate will do so either because they have had some experience in this field, or they are dealing with a very straightforward estate. Generally this indicates that the deceased did not own property of any kind and their personal wealth was below a level that would be liable for Inheritance Tax.
 
There are a host of reasons which can cause the application to become problematic. These include:
 
1.       If there is a problem locating the will
2.       There are concerns about the validity of the will
3.       There is a chance that the will might be contested
4.       The locations of the beneficiaries are not known
5.       The terms of the will are unclear
6.       If the estate is subject to Inheritance Tax
7.       For an estate that is greater in value than £250,000
8.       When there is no will and the deceased was married with children
9.       When there is no will, the deceased was married and the total value of the estate is over the Inheritance Tax threshold of £325,000.
10.   If the estate might be liable to Inheritance Tax and the spouse, or civil partner, of the deceased has died previously with none or some of the inheritance allowance used at that time.
11.   When there is no will and the total value of the estate is greater than £450,000 and the deceased left behind a husband, wife, or civil partner with no children
12.   Regardless of whether there is a will or not, when part of the estate is bequeathed to children below the age of 18
13.   When part of the estate is money, or property, in a trust
14.   When the deceased was a partner in, or owner of, a business
15.   When the deceased owned property, or land, that has an unregistered title
16.   When the deceased owned property, or land, abroad
17.   If the estate has been declared insolvent
 
There are many companies that offer probate services. However, it is wise to be sceptical as, for some, the motivation is to gain as much of the estate as is possible. For example banks and building societies will take a whopping 5% of the estate for this service.
 
IWC are independent probate practitioners and offer a low cost fixed fee to handle probate on your behalf. If you are unsure about a probate application call us on 0800 612 6105 for free help and advice.

Do I need to use a professional when applying for probate?

The short answer to this is no, you do not need to appoint a professional practitioner when applying for probate. You can apply to the registry independently and handle probate yourself if you wish.
 
DIY probate kits are available from IWC, which contain everything you need to complete the process yourself. We even offer a money back guarantee, in the event you encounter any difficulties and have to seek advice from our legal team.
 
Why get legal assistance?
There are many reasons why almost 70% of UK citizens choose to appoint a company to deal with probate on their behalf. Even in straightforward cases, it can be stressful, time consuming and long-winded. When grieving the loss of a loved one, you may not have the energy or inclination to do it yourself. Mistakes can be costly and executors can be held personally liable for any financial losses on the estate. 
 
The assets of the estate will require valuation. You’ll also be required to attend an interview at the probate registry to swear an oath and confirm the information you’ve provided is correct. This is carried out at the location nearest to where the deceased resided. Therefore, this makes it difficult and inconvenient for those who live outside of the area, or overseas.
 
When you shouldn’t go it alone
Applying for probate is meant to be a straight-forward process. However, there are certain circumstances where it is recommended you seek expert help.
When the death is intestate (the deceased didn’t make a will)
If there is likely to be a dispute
When inheritance tax is due
If the estate is made up of many assets, spread over lots of institutions
Where there are overseas assets
 
Consider that probate services don’t have to cost the earth, there’s no need to feel you have to do it yourself to save money. IWC ltd offers a low cost, fixed fee service and there’s no need to make any advanced payments. Rather than charging our fee as a percentage of the estate, our low rates are based on the amount of work involved.
 
Call our free advice line on 0800 612 6105 for more information.

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