Key steps of Probate
Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s possessions, property and money when they die. Probate must be handled in a certain way and follow a series of steps to ensure it is carried out properly and with the wishes of the deceased respected.
If a client leaves a Will there will be a ‘grant of probate’ required and executors will be named.
If there is no Will there will be a ‘letter of administration’, whereby an application will need to be made to administer the estate.
The Probate application if there is a Will:
- Firstly the Will needs to be retrieved from where it is being safely stored. If this is not known then Certainty, the National Will Register, can help source a Will.
- The executor – who has been nominated in the Will – can carry out the Probate, or enlist the assistance of a professional company such as BTWC in dealing with the probate.
- Value the Estate – this includes contacting relevant companies such as banks and utility providers. The estate will need to be valued and reported to the HMRC, the value will determine what inheritance tax there is to pay. The gross value of the estate needs to be valued, which is the value of all ‘assets’ plus gifts.
- From this you need to identify the ‘net’ value which is the value of the assets plus gifts minus debt owed.
- Apply for Probate - an executor can apply for probate or someone else licensed to handle Probate (such as BTWC) can be used.
- Any inheritance tax owed should be paid.
- Assets, such as money from a property sale, should be collected.
- Debts must be paid from the assets if need be.
- Estate accounts should be kept as to how the assets are split.
- The estate can be passed on to any named beneficiaries in the Will.
Probate can possibly take between 6 to 9 months to complete, or longer for complex cases or if the Will is contested. The time and resource needed for this can be consuming, which is why we have a team who are experienced in the Probate process and can support in a number of ways.
Intestate - there is no Will…
If no Will was in place then an application will need to be made for an administrator, this is someone who has the legal right to deal with the estate. With no Will in place then the law will decide who inherits what from the Estate. This is intestacy and we will cover this off in a future blog. It’s estimated that more than 30m people in the UK do not have a Will, so it’s a possibility that you may have to deal with Intestacy at some point with your clients.
If you have a client who has a sizeable estate with assets attached and they don’t have a Will then it may be worth having a conversation with them, highlighting the risk to their estate in the future.
At BTWC we can provide a full Probate service to your clients, just refer them on to us and on completion you will receive 25% commission of the net fees - just call us on 01522 500823 to make a referral - we'll do everything for you!