What is Probate?

What is Probate?

If you find yourself named as an executor on a will, then you’re going to need to apply for probate. Probate gives you the legal authority to manage a loved one’s estate after they die – it’s the name given to the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with the property, money and possessions of a person who has died.

Here we look at the first steps in the probate process, what information you’ll need to give the government, and any fees involved.

The Probate process

If you’re the executor of a loved one’s estate, then you’ll be responsible for applying for Probate, valuing the estate, making sure inheritance tax is paid and giving out inheritance money and gifts. Phew. Here’s the steps you’re going to have to work through.

1. Work out the value of the person’s estate

Here you’re going to need a calculator, some spare time and a lot of patience. The first step in the process is to identify all of the person’s assets (property, investments and possessions) and all of their liabilities (debts ranging from loans to utility bills). This is to help you work out the value of the estate.

2. Find out who’s named on the Will 

Confirm who’s getting what, as set out in the Will, and gather up all the identification documents relating to the beneficiaries (those entitled to something in the Will). This stage in the process is probably the only part where you’re allowed to pretend you’re some kind of undercover detective. Small pleasures in the legal world are few and far between.

3. Pay Inheritance Tax to HMRC

If if applies to your case, then you’ll need to pay any Inheritance Tax before you’re granted Probate. After you’ve submitted the tax return, you can then apply for Grant of Representation to get the legal authority to dish out the contents of the Will.

4. Apply for Grant of Representation

Grant of Probate, also known as a Grant of Representation, is a PA1 form issued by the government. You’ll need to fill this in and send it off to your local Probate Registry. You can get help and advice on filling in the form by calling the inheritance tax and probate helpline.

5. Prepare the Estate accounts

When your form is approved and the Grant of Representation has been issued, you need to prepare the Estate’s accounts. This means documenting all payments into and out of the Estate, and stating the amount balance left.

6. Transfer the assets

Finally, if there’s no challenges to the Estate, you can now begin to transfer the assets to those named in the Will. After that, you can put your feet up.

Are there any fees involved in the Probate process?

If the estate being managed is valued under £5,000, you don’t have to pay a probate fee. If the estate is valued at £5,000 or over, you’re expected to pay a £215 fee.

As you won’t yet have access to the estate’s money, the executor will need to pay the fee. You can then reclaim this fee from the estate once probate has been granted.

When is Probate not required?

In most cases, where there are properties in an estate, you will need probate. However, you do not need to apply for probate if the estate only includes:

  • Bank accounts that are jointly-owned with a living person
  • Cash and personal possessions such as cars and jewellery
  • Property that is jointly-owned with a living person
  • Debts that are greater in value than the assets
  • Life insurance policies and pension benefits

Find out more

Over at Death.io we’ve got a Legal Matters hub to help you get death in order.

Find out more about Wills and what to include in one in our article here.

If you’re not clear on inheritance tax, we’ve got some more information on it.

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