Probate FAQs

Do you have a question about Probate? If you don’t find the answer below, get in touch with our team today.

What is an estate?
Someone’s estate is everything that they own; all of their assets (whether real property or personal property) and their liabilities.

Who are Executors and what are their responsibilities?
An Executor is a person who is appointed in the deceased’s Will to deal with the administration of their estate after their death. It is an Executor’s responsibility to:

• Determine what property and other assets the deceased owned, as well as their liabilities.
• Arrange for current valuations of personal possessions, property, investments, any pension or insurance entitlements due and also to identify any debts and bills
• Arrange for the payment of the funeral
• Establish Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax liabilities and complete the necessary tax returns to submit to the Revenue
• Complete and submit the necessary Probate Registry forms
• Arrange the insurance, clearance and sale of any property
• Collect assets and pay any debts
• Arrange for the distribution of legacies and gifts to the beneficiaries
• Compile detailed accounts to give to the main beneficiaries
• In the case of minor children being beneficiaries, then the Executor may act as Trustee for ongoing trusts, to hold their monies until they reach 18 or the age specified in the deceased’s Will.

What is the difference between an Administrator and an Executor?
A general term for somebody entitled to deal with the estate administration is a Personal Representative. When a person dies without making a Will, the closest next of kin would be an Administrator who would be entitled to extract the Grant of Letters of Administration. An Executor is someone who has been appointed under a Will to deal with the estate administration.

It is the duty of the Personal Representative to pay off all debts of the deceased, and if this is not done then they may be personally liable to pay money back into the estate.

What is Probate?
Probate is the court’s authority, given to a person or persons, to administer a deceased estate, and the document issued by the Probate Registry to allow this to happen is called a Grant of Probate. This document is usually required by the asset holders (such as banks) as proof to show the name of the person or persons who have the Registry’s authority to administer a deceased person’s estate.

Do I need a Grant of Probate – everything was held jointly?
The Probate process will be needed when investments (typically over £5,000) were held in the deceased’s sole name and the banks, building societies and other organisations request a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration in order to release the funds held.

A Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration is also required in order to sell or transfer a property that was held in the sole name of the deceased.

How soon can a Grant of Probate / Grant of Letters of Administration be obtained?
In straightforward estates we can arrange for the preparation of all the necessary papers within 7 working days of receiving full financial information about the estate from the Executor/ Administrator, or from the various financial institutions. We can then usually obtain the Grant within 10 working days of the Executor/Administrator signing and returning the additional signed documents that are needed for the application.

Am I liable for my loved one’s debts?
No – the liability is with the deceased person’s estate. It is a common misconception that when a person dies their debts disappear, but this is not always the case. When a person dies their debts are paid for from their assets at the time of death. If their debt exceeds their available assets, then the estate will be insolvent. Sometimes it is not known if an estate is insolvent until the Grant of Probate has been received. When the estate of the deceased is insolvent, gifts and legacies cannot be distributed to the beneficiaries under the Will. This part of the law is governed by Administration of Insolvent Estates of Deceased Persons Order 1986 (DPO 1986).

I only need a Grant of Probate – can A.R.K Lasting Powers & Wills help with that?
Yes, we offer a “Grant only” service – you provide the valuations and details about the estate and we will arrange for the necessary legal documentation and tax returns to be completed. The application for Probate will be completed and sent to the Probate Registry, leaving you thereafter to deal with the rest of the estate administration.

Full Estate Administration – what does that entail?
We will take full details and gather all documentation needed so that the executors can hand over responsibility for dealing with all aspects of the estate administration – from start to finish. This will include notifying all relevant organisations/companies, gathering the information needed to complete the Probate application forms, and placing property for sale and completing the sale process once Probate is held. There will be assets to collect in eg. money from bank/building society accounts, proceeds from the sale of shares and other money owed to the deceased. There may also be debts to pay eg. loans, utility bills and funeral expenses.

The fee for this service will be dependent on the value and number of assets held and any other complexities. Executors will be notified at the outset of the fee that will be charged (usually this will be a very small percentage of the gross value of the estate). They will also be informed of likely disbursements (third party fees) and if any conveyancing/Trust work is required the fee for this will be specified as well. There really won’t be any surprises as time goes on, and the executors will be kept fully informed throughout the process.

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