Probate is the name often given to the process of administering a person’s estate after their death.
Executors (or administrators if there is no will) are responsible for dealing with probate, and it can be surprisingly complicated. If anything goes wrong then executors may be personally responsible for making things right, so any mistakes can be costly. Hill Dickinson provides specialist advice at every stage of the probate process to minimise or avoid the problems and disputes that can all too easily arise.
We guide executors through the probate process, and can undertake many of the steps on their behalf, including:
- Registering the death and arranging the funeral
- Notifying third parties such as banks, utility companies and Government bodies
- Arranging valuations of property and personal effects
- Identifying any debts the deceased owed
- Working out the deceased’s final Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax liability
- Calculating whether Inheritance Tax is due
- Obtaining a Grant of Representation (the Court document confirming a will is valid, or administrators have authority to act)
- Closing the deceased’s bank accounts and taking control of other assets
- Selling property or transferring it to beneficiaries
- Paying the deceased’s debts and any tax or bills incurred during probate
- Preparing detailed estate accounts proving the estate has been correctly administered
- Obtaining confirmation from the Inland Revenue that all tax matters are finalised
- Confirming who is legally entitled to benefit
- Paying out the deceased’s estate in accordance with the will
Things get even more complicated when a deceased person has not made a will (and 60 per cent of people fail to do so). Without a will, it is necessary to find out who is entitled to deal with the estate and who benefits from it. Sometimes complex trust arrangements arise under intestacy rules, which govern who gets what in the absence of a will.