You may have had an occasion where unfortunately a client has passed away, or perhaps a client has been asked to be an executor but is not sure how to handle the Estate Admin or Probate. If this happens then supporting your client or their family members with the best advice is crucial. Understanding the Probate process and what possible complexities can occur can help you identify how to best support your clients.
What is a Grant of Probate?
Probate originates from the Latin term meaning to ‘prove’ and Grant of Probate is a legal document required to be obtained by an executor in order to be able to administer the estate – it is an ‘official proving of the Will’.
The Grant enables the executors (if there is a Will) or administrators (where there is no Will) to act to administrate the estate.
The Grant of Probate, as an official document, is granted by the Probate Registry (a section of the Court). Even if an executor has been named in a Will, it is only with a Grant of Probate can they manage the estate according to the wishes of the deceased.
Is Probate Required?
If assets were held jointly, Probate may not be required as assets will pass by survivorship to the spouse or partner. However, if a trust such as a Property Trust was in the Will then a grant will be required in order to enact the Life Interest for example. Regarding financial institutions such as banks and building societies, probate thresholds vary from institution to institution rather than being set by government.
Not every estate will require probate as some may be quite small, but all estates will need some level of Estate Administration. Generally if there are assets worth over £5000, then some form of Probate may be required.
What is Estate Administration?
Estate Administration is the process of dealing with someone’s legal and tax affairs after they have passed away. The person responsible for administering an estate will have to undertake duties such as;
- Gathering information from institutions such as banks, insurances providers, HMRC, DWP etc
- Prepare tax forms and apply for the grant if required
- Sell/transfer property and settle debts such as mortgages, credit cards etc
- Close accounts
- Produce full and final estate accounts
- Distribute the estate to the correct and entitled beneficiaries.
Dealing with the deceased’s property
It will be part of the Executor’s role to deal with the administration of the property that will no doubt be part of the estate.
If the property was jointly owned then it will automatically transfer to the joint-owner.
If a property needs to be sold, it can go on the market, but it cannot be sold before the Grant of Probate has been issued.
If the property was owned with someone else as tenants in common, this means that each person owns a specific share of the property. Therefore the share owned by the deceased person will be inherited by whoever the deceased has left it to in their Will, or in line with the Rules of Intestacy if there was no Will.
The Probate Process
- Register the death – this should be done within 5 days
- Source the original Will – we partner with Certainty the National Will Register to help ensure all our clients Wills are found long into the future
- Arrange the funeral – we have a panel of funeral plan providers to help pre-arrange the funeral to avoid more upset later down the line
- Value the estate
- Secure any properties
- Finances – contact the necessary banks, building societies and get arrangements in place for any bills etc
- Inheritance tax – complete and file the returns
- Apply for Probate
- Pay any debts
- Distribute the estate
Each of the above steps can become complex in themselves, but the BTWC team have the expertise to help alleviate any issues and ensure the correct process is fulfilled to keep things moving swiftly along. With over 20 years’ experience we have seen all sorts of complexities and requests occur through the probate and admin process.
How long does Estate administration and Probate take?
This is largely dependent on the size of the estate and how complex it is. Assets such as second properties, overseas properties, debt or even business affairs can all cause added complexities and lengthen the whole administration process.
Other factors include selling the property which could take a while, or if the Will is being contested for any reason from either a beneficiary or a disgruntled family member or friend, this can impact timescales also.
A claim against an estate can be made within 6 months of the issue date of the Grant of Probate, most often such claims may fall under the Inheritance Act as the claim is usually from someone believing they are entitled to inherit from the estate.
There is also the dealing of any Inheritance Tax. This does not necessarily take a long time, but it can sometimes get complex and so professional advice is recommended for dealing with this.
On average Estate Administration can take from 6 months up to a year or so to be fully resolved and dealt with.
How do I submit a case?
We have a simple probate application form that you can complete with your client. You need to obtain the signed original Will (if it can be located) along with a death certificate and any other supporting information that will help us to complete the process such as property deeds, bank account information, pension providers etc and we’ll do the rest.
Even if we were not the team to have drafted the Will, we can undertake the Estate Administration and Probate process if requested.
The benefit to you as the adviser
Our fees are competitive to enable you to win the business but equally our commission rates are one of the most generous within the sector. We offer 25% of nett fees upon completion. What does that mean?
A typical scenario:
Average Estate Valuation of £300,000
BTWC Fees 1.5% + VAT (Plus disbursements)
Associate Commission £1,125