What Is Probate?
When someone dies, the executor of their Will is usually the person who needs to apply for probate. Probate gives someone the legal right to handle someone else’s assets such as their money, investments, and other possessions which are collectively known as their “estate”. The executor will be named in the Will and will usually need to collect the assets in the deceased person’s estate and distribute them to the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are those who will benefit from the Will and inherit the assets.
Probate is not always needed if someone only has savings or they owned assets jointly with someone else, as these will usually be automatically passed over to the joint owner. If probate is necessary, the executor will be given what is called a “grant of probate” which will give them the authority to access the deceased’s estate and handle their assets.
When Is Probate Needed?
Whether probate is needed or not is based on the deceased’s financial situation. Probate is needed when a person dies and leaves behind assets such as savings of more than £5000, property and bank accounts, or investments in their sole name.
What if There Is No Will?
In the case that the person who died did not leave a Will, the most entitled person can apply to be the administrator of the estate, which is usually a close family member. Instead of the grant of probate, the entitled person will be given “letters of administration” which will give them the authority to handle the deceased’s assets.
What Does the Executor Do?
The executor’s role involves a number of tasks that can be both time-consuming and demanding which is why some executors find it beneficial to seek help from a solicitor to ensure they do not miss anything. The executor has to do the following:
- Register the death
- Obtain copies of the Will
- Take responsibility for any property left in the Will
- Value the estate including all the assets
- Gather the assets
- Settle Inheritance Tax bills
- Apply for probate
- Distribute the assets once probate has been granted
What Are the Stages of Probate?
Step 1: Estimate the Value of the Estate
Before you apply for probate, you’ll need to work out how much the estate is worth and whether you need to pay Inheritance Tax. This will involve valuing all the assets by finding out how much money is held in bank accounts or by having property valued and then subtracting any debts or assets that were owned jointly with someone else from the total value. After this, work out how much Inheritance Tax is due on the final amount. You can speak to a solicitor who can help with this or use an online inheritance tax calculator. There is also a probate helpline that can assist with queries about the process.
Step 2: Pay Inheritance Tax
Once you’ve worked out how much tax is due, you should complete form IHT400 and form IHT421. You’ll need to wait 20 days after submitting these forms before you can apply for probate.
Step 2: Apply for Probate
You can apply for probate online or by post using the PA1P form if there is a Will or PA1A form if there is no Will. Alternatively, you can instruct a solicitor to apply on your behalf. In order to apply, you’ll need to attach the death certificate or an interim death certificate and an original copy of the Will if one has been made.
Step 3: Pay the Fees
The next step will be to pay the fee to apply for probate. This will be £273 if the total value of the estate is more than £5000, or, if the value is less than this, there will be no fee.
How Long Does Probate Normally Take in the UK?
Once you have applied for probate, you’ll usually receive the grant of probate or letters of administration 16 weeks later, but sometimes this can take longer if there are administrative delays or the correct documentation has not been submitted.
Is Probate Quicker With a Solicitor?
If you use a solicitor, the process of applying for probate may be quicker because the solicitor will be accustomed to preparing all the correct paperwork and dealing with any complex issues that may come up.
How Does Probate Work When Selling a House?
You cannot complete a sale on a property unless you have the grant of probate first. Therefore, when you are selling a house after someone has died, you must factor in the time it will take to apply for probate. You could apply for the grant of probate before putting the home up for sale or as soon as you put the home on the market. Bear in mind that it could take longer for probate to process than it does to sell the home, so you’ll need to make any buyers aware of this.
Step 1: Get Property Valuations
The first step is to arrange a few different valuations to make sure you are getting a range of estimated prices. You must be certain that you are getting a fair price for the property.
Step 2: Make Sure the Property Is Being Well Maintained
As the executor of the Will and the one applying for probate, it is your responsibility to keep the home secure and well-maintained. This means checking the property regularly, keeping it warm in winter, and repairing any damage or faults. Any expenses can be reclaimed from the estate when probate has been granted. You want to make sure that the home is maintained properly so that it isn’t vandalised, broken into, or going into disrepair which will put off potential buyers and negatively affect the beneficiaries of the Will.
Step 3: Market the Property
The next step would be to work out how you want to sell the property, whether it is through an estate agent, a private sale, or via auction. Once you know how much the property is worth you can begin to advertise.
Step 4: Instruct a Solicitor and Go Through the Process
You’ll need to find a qualified solicitor to act on your behalf throughout the sale process. It is best to find one that is regulated by reputable conveyancing associations and by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. At Lyons Bowe, we are accredited by the Conveyancing Quality Scheme and the Conveyancing Association which means our conveyancing services are held to a high standard.