Grant of Probate

Grant of Probate: The Facts you Need to Know

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What is Grant of Probate

When someone dies, there are steps you’ll need to take to ensure their affairs are tied up and their estate is distributed fairly. It’s a lot to think about. But the very first step is obtaining a Grant of Probate. Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions when they die and will allow you to act as the executor of an estate. It’s a complicated topic, but a necessary one to understand. So here are the facts you need to know.

Do I Need a Grant of Probate?

Unless the deceased had a very small estate, or owned everything jointly with someone else, you’ll need a Grant of Probate. If the deceased left a Will naming an executor, a Grant of Probate should be issued without delay. If there’s no Will, a Grant of Letters of Administration will be issued. This is an official court document that proves you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate. And once issued, you’ll be able to act as the administrator of the estate, allowing you to close bank accounts, sell property and distribute assets to beneficiaries.

As it stands, you’ll typically require a Grant of Probate when the person who died leaves one or more of the following:

  • Around £20,000 in any one account
  • Stocks or shares
  • Certain insurance policies
  • Property or land held in their own name or as ‘tenants in common’

Expect most banks and institutions to request your Grant of Probate before transferring control of assets. This is just common practice that serves to protect the deceased’s estate.

How to Apply for Probate

To be granted probate, there are several steps you’ll need to take. Below is a quick checklist to help you get everything in order.

#1 Register the Death

The death of your loved one needs to be officially registered before probate can be granted. This needs to be done within five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and eight days in Scotland. You can buy extra copies of the death certificate at this stage.

#2 Value the Estate

This can be easy or extremely complicated, depending on the deceased’s investments, properties and personal belongings. You’ll need to go through bank statements to find out which accounts they hold, mortgage details, pensions, outstanding tax, outstanding debts, loans and more. Sometimes an estate might seem large until you start calculating outstanding payments. This can reduce the value significantly and is something Kent tax advisors can assist with.

#3 Property Valuation

Many people have properties as part of their estate and these need to be valued by comparing other similar properties on the market. If Inheritance Tax is likely to be an issue (the current ‘nil-rate’ band being £325,000), it’s well-worth getting a written valuation from an estate agent or surveyor in case your figure is challenged by HMRC.

#4 Inheritance Tax

Do you need to pay Inheritance Tax on the property? This needs to be clarified before you submit the relevant forms. Many people these days plan in advance in a bid to reduce their Inheritance Tax obligations. But a sudden death may leave such issues unresolved. Speak to a Kent accountant for probate services for more information.

#5 File Your Probate Application

When everything’s in order, you should then be in a strong position to complete a probate application form. You can also apply on the gov.uk website.

Issues of probate can be complicated, so don’t hesitate to seek professional advice.

 

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