probate application

Is an Executor Required to Make an Application For Probate?

Technically speaking the answer is yes. As part of the process of writing a will there should be a person, or company, nominated to act as executor and it is the responsibility of this individual to make an Application for Probate.
 
In some cases the person named as executor is not able to make the probate application. They may have passed away, or simply not have the ability to fulfil this process. In these cases another person may step and make an application for Letters of Administration, which will give them the same legal rights as those given with Grant of Probate.
 
It is common practice for Banks and Lawyers that have provided a will-writing service to have themselves named as executors in these wills. These companies may offer this service free of charge as they can recoup the costs involved when they are administering the estate. Despite the fact that they may have written the will, and been named as executors, there is no obligation to use them. You can ask an executor to resign their position at any time.
 
If you feel as though the person named as an executor is not the right person for this job you can contact them directly and ask them to resign their position. You might find that the bank or solicitor involved is resistant as they will have some investment in the process. You can ask for them to give you an outline of the costs involved up-front and then compare this against a fixed-fee low cost alternative. If you ask them to price match with the cheaper alternative they will be less likely to compete for the business.
 
If you would like to find out more about the legal obligations of an executor you can call free on 0800 612 6105, lines are open until 10pm, 7 days a week.

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

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.

How to value the estate when applying for probate

The first thing you’ll need to do as part of the probate application process is value the assets of the estate. You’ll need this information before you can complete the forms and send off your application to the probate registry.
 
First make a list of the deceased assets; this may include;
Money
Property or land
Businesses or business assets
Stocks and shares
Life insurance policies
Pensions that include a lump sum payment
Assets in a trust from which the deceased benefited
Foreign assets
Personal chattels
Furniture, fixtures and fittings
Motor vehicles
Any asset gifted up to 7 years before the death occurred
An asset gifted at any time in which the deceased kept an interest
 
Once you’ve compiled the list, you’ll need to obtain the open market value of each item. This means you should value it at a price it would realistic fetch when sold on the open market. It is recommended to use a professional valuations company. It is common for individuals to overvalue assets which can result in increased tax liability.
 
Property- is often the highest valued asset that makes up an estate, so it’s important to get it right. A surveyor will take into account market conditions and the state of repair of the property, to ensure it is valued accurately.
 
Shares- find out their value on the date of death.
 
Chattels-you’ll need to get a professional to value any items such as antiques, art or jewellery that are worth more than £500.
 
Joint assets- you’ll need to calculate the value of the joint owners share. In the case of property, find out the size of the deceased’s share. If the co-owner is not the spouse or partner of the deceased, deduct 10% because of the difficulty in selling a part-share.
 
The next step is to list all the liabilities of the estate;
Funeral expenses
Outstanding mortgages
Credit card balances and overdrafts
Unpaid tax
Household bills
 
The estate value can be calculated by subtracting the total value of liabilities from the total value of assets. You’ll need to keep a record of this, and store any paperwork or receipts.

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