Losing a family member or close friend is one of the hardest emotional rollercoasters we experience as humans. The grieving process is hard enough on its own, without the hassle and deep strain of dealing with the estate of someone who you love who has passed.
One of the common mis-conceptions is that when someone dies, whatever is documented in their will is actioned immediately. In reality, however, you need to obtain what is known as a grant of probate, before any of the deceased assets are distributed accordingly as stated in their will. The 1st step in doing this is establishing your authority to act as the deceased executor. If you are in possession of the original will, it must be sent to the Probate Office. ! Most importantly, before a grant of probate is applied for, you need to assess the value of the estate.
This can be very simple or extremely complicated depending on how the deceased distributed their funds. For example, it could be a straight forward case of adding together their bank account holdings and subtracting their liabilities. Whereas in other cases can be far more complexed, involving the ownership of properties or overseas investments to name a few.
Each institution should be sent a certified copy of the death certificate and asked to submit a sworn statement. Most assets will remain frozen until you have formally been granted probate, although banks should pay out funeral costs immediately.
After assessing the size and composition of the estate of the deceased you should then complete a probate application form known as a PA1 by applying to the Personal Application Department of Probate Registry. You are also required to submit a form to the HMRC to establish whether or not inheritance tax needs to be paid. These are known as IHT 205 if the threshold is below £325,000 or the IHT 400 if above the threshold.
Once all the forms are completed, you send them, along with the original will and death certificate to the Probate Registry. In conjunction with this you must swear an executors oath that the details you have provided are correct. This can be done at your nearest Probate Registry or a local solicitors office. Solicitors will charge a small fee for this service but it will usually be a lot faster way of doing it than going through the Registry.
The Probate application fee is £215. (At the time of writing this article) Assuming that everything is now in order, there is one more bridge to cross. If inheritance tax is due, this must be paid in advance. If there are sufficient funds in one of the deceased bank accounts, it is possible to arrange a direct payment to the HMRC. A key point to note is that if the majority of the assets of the deceased is a property or shares, the HMRC will accept inheritance tax in installments, and only require 10 per cent of the total in advance. Once this is complete, you will obtain the Grant of Probate, and everything in the deceased will will be dispersed accordingly.