Applying for Probate

Applying for Probate and Estate Administration

Obtaining a Grant of Probate can be a complex and time consuming process involving HMRC and the UK Probate Court. Getting professional help can dramatically reduce the hours required and associated paperwork.  We offer a no obligation service and can arrange to discuss this at a time convenient to you. 

What is Probate?

If a person passes away owning assets held in a bank or other financial institution or if a company – such as a Pension Provider or Life Insurance company – is likely to pay the estate of a deceased person then they may ask you to apply for either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. This ensures they are paying the right people the money, this procedure is also known as applying for probate.

Because the process of applying for probate is often complex and requires a lot of administration, then you may decide to use a professional legal service. To help you with your decision we’ve outlined  some of the key information about applying for probate below. 

 

Do You Need to Apply for Probate?

Take a look at the different scenarios below to find out whether you are required to apply for Probate. 

Most banks will allow you to deal with bank accounts with less then £25,000 by completing a next of kin form and it is not always necessary for you to obtain Probate in order to deal with the funds. However, different organisations have their own limits, so it best to check with the bank or organisation.

For ISA accounts and bank accounts with higher balances, a grant of probate will be required in order to transfer the accounts into your sole name. The banks will be able to provide you with this information.

Shareholders/investors in the majority of cases will require you to obtain a grant of probate in order to legally transfer/dispose of any shareholdings or investments.

If you make a Will it will include an appointment of Executors. One of the Executors duties is to apply to the Probate Division of the High Court for a Grant of Probate.

If there is no Will, the person dealing with the estate will be the Administrator also known as the Personal Representative and following an application to the High Court, they will receive a Grant of Letters of Administration. There is a strict order as to who can apply for Letters of Administration under the Laws of Intestacy.

Some people think that a Letter of Administration is a letter that any legal advisor, solicitor or lawyer can prepare. This is not the case, an application for Letters of Administration must be submitted to the High Court Probate division and can only be submitted with an Inland Revenue account with an account of the assets of the deceased person.

This is a document which grants the same rights as a Grant of Probate. It bestows control of the deceased person’s assets to the applicant. Different to a probate grant, letters of administration apply to intestate deaths (where the deceased did not leave a will). You may also need to apply in the event where there is a will but it is not valid for example; where there are no executors named or executors cannot or refuse to act.

The application is the same as when one applies for probate. The difference is that the personal representative (applicant) is not an executor (as named in the will) but is an administrator according to the rules of Intestacy. A PA1 probate form must be completed and sent off with a cheque for the administration fees, with an IHT205 or IHT400 relating to inheritance tax.

Intestacy rules will determine who has the right to apply for the letter of administration. This is normally their next of kin; the rules of intestacy set out the following order of priority.

  • Husband, wife or civil partner (Note that common law partners cannot apply for probate)
  • Adult children including sons or daughters adopted by the deceased, not step-children
  • Parents
  • Brothers or sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles or aunts

A person must be over the age of 18 to apply. If the person entitled to the estate is under 18, 2 people are legally required to apply for the grant.

The person granted is the personal representative of the estate. They have the legal responsibility of managing the estate and the deceased’s affairs, the same as the executor of a will would.

The letters are submitted to financial institutions to gain access to funds, property and shares etc and personal representative can complete their legal duties which include paying debts, settling solicitors and probate fees, finding out details of money owed to the estate, inheritance tax planning and dealing with HMRC. And finally they can distribute the assets of the estate in accordance with the rules of intestacy. 

Unlike an executor, the administrator has no instructions to follow; they have to find out exactly who is entitled to share the estate. Applying for letters of administration as an administrator is a serious responsibility and the holder of the grant could be held liable for misinterpretations of the law and other mistakes made. 

Dealing with the deceased estate can be extremely complicated and drag on for months. As well as time consuming and difficult, the emotional aspect can make it distressing and troubling.

Your Duty as Executor

Executors carry a lot of responsibility, seeking and paying for professional help is a legitimate expense to the estate. With our help and advice an Executor need not take the full burden of administration of an estate.

When complications arise, then the duties of an executor can be stressful. There are also various time-limits and deadlines that must be adhered to; an executor has 1 year to pay bills and debts associated with the estate or else they themselves can become personally liable. They can also become liable for any mistakes they make. It is therefore advised to seek professional help. 

A Guide to the roles and responsibilities of an executor

Our Probate Service

Qualified

Fully Qualified Probate Practitioners – your work will be carried out by a STEP member or Law degree qualified professionals.

Low Cost

Low Cost– we’ll agree the fee with you from the outset so you’ll know exactly how much it will cost and give you regular updates on fees. 

No Upfront Payment

Nothing to pay in advance – No upfront payment required, our fees can be paid from the estate.

No Obligation

We offer FREE advice and no-obligation appointments to discuss any aspect of estate administration.

Professional Advice

For estates with an Inheritance Tax bill we can deal with calculations and preparation of the inheritance tax forms, payment of inheritance tax and negotiations with HMRC.

Friendly Service

We offer a compassionate, friendly probate service from start to finish.

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