The BAS guide to Probate

21 June 2023

So, what is probate? Probate is the legal right to deal with property, money and possessions when a person dies. It is the process of proving that a Will is valid. A Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration, where there is no will (Intestacy), confirms that the executors have the authority to access bank accounts, sell assets, settle debts and distribute the person’s estate. The excecutors legally have the authority to the beneficiaries of the Will, or in the case of no will, distribute the estate following the Intestacy rules. 

When will Probate be needed? 

Probate is required when the deceased person owned property or assets in their sole name, where the estate is worth more than £10,000.  Most banks, insurers and financial institutions will release funds under £10,000 without seeing a Grant of Probate. If a bank, insurer or financial institution asks for a Grant of Probate or letters of administration, Probate is almost certain to be needed.  

What is the Probate process? 

The executor of the will or the administrator of the estate (if there is no will) is responsible for applying for a Grant of Probate, which is a legal document that gives them the authority to deal with the assets of the deceased person. They will need to provide various documents and information to the Probate Registry, including the original will, death certificate and details of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. 

The executors will also need to calculate the value of the Estate and whether there is Inheritance Tax due on the Estate. They will need to notify HMRC of any tax due and pay the tax before the Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration application can be made. 

When is Probate finalised? 

Once the Grant of Probate has been issued, the executor or administrator can then start the process of administering the estate. This involves collecting all the assets, paying any debts and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will, or according to the laws of Intestacy. The entire Probate process can take several months to complete. 

Do you need professional support with Probate?

In short, No. Particularly if you’re dealing with an uncomplicated estate. Here are 9 steps to managing Probate yourself if the estate is simple:

  1. Register the death
  2. Find out of there’s a Will
  3. Manage the Inheritance Tax
  4. Apply for Probate
  5. Tell organisations and close accounts
  6. Pay off any debts
  7. Claim on life insurance
  8. Value the estate
  9. Distribute the remaining assets

However, you may want to consider a Probate professional if:

  • The estate is bankrupt (also known as insolvent)
  • The estate is complicated, for example if more than one property needs to be sold or the will is deemed invalid
  • You are struggling with the paperwork and timescales
  • The deceased had dependants who were deliberately left out of the will, but who might want to make a claim on the estate
  •  The value of the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold and the estate is still earning a regular income where there are complicated taxes due. The standard individual inheritance tax-free threshold is currently £325,000.
  • The deceased died without a will, and it’s a complicated estate to administer
  • There are doubts about the validity of the Will
  • The estate has complex arrangements, such as assets held in a trust
  • You’re uncertain about how to complete a task correctly
  • There are doubts that the estate is bankrupt
  • The estate includes foreign property or assets
  • The deceased lived outside the UK for tax purposes

How can we help you with Probate? 

Think carefully before deciding if you want to take on this additional administration burden, which can be complicated and take several months to finalise. If you have any concerns, BAS Associates are licensed to provide Probate services in England and Wales. We are here to help you during this difficult and sometimes stressful time.  

We can help with: 

  • Calculating and facilitating payment of all relevant taxes within HMRC deadlines 
  • Payment of money owing to creditors
  • Collection of debts owed to the deceased; and
  • Distribution of remaining assets from the estate to the relevant beneficiaries. 

 

How can BAS help to mitigate tax liabilities? 

As Chartered Accountants, we possess the necessary expertise to manage the tax matters of the deceased. Our knowledge allows us to guide you through the complexities of inheritance tax, income tax, and capital taxes. We also utilise our experience to help you and the beneficiaries reduce the amount of tax payable from the estate. 

How do I proceed if I decide that I need your help and support? 

Book an appointment at our office in Wingrave with our specialist Dawn Smith, who will listen to your individual situation and work out the best solution for you. Each set of circumstances are personal and the price will reflect that. 

After the meeting you will receive a tailored quotation reflecting the work needed. If this is acceptable, we will advise the best way forward and request further details to proceed. At times during the process, we may need to contact you to keep you updated
or obtain further details.  

Any of the team can book a time to meet, so please call 01296 681341 or fill in this contact form and we will call you back as soon as possible. 

We offer a smooth and sympathetic, yet professional service, to help you navigate a complicated process during what may be a difficult time. 

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