Probate is the term used to describe the financial/legal processes involving the possessions, property and money of a person who has died. Before the next of kin or Executor of the person’s will can legally distribute, transfer, claim or sell any assets belonging to the deceased, they may have to apply for Probate.
The process can involve a lot of complex legal work, which can be broken down into the following five phases:
1) Identification Of Assets
This involves highlighting any assets (investments, possessions, property) and liabilities (debts, including loans or unpaid bills). After assets and liabilities are taken into consideration, the value of the estate of the deceased can be determined.
2) Payment Of Inheritance Tax
If applicable, Probate requires the paying of Inheritance Tax to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC). This requires the correct submission of an Inheritance Tax form, regardless of whether any tax is due. At this stage, the Executor will also need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation. This is an official document which confirms the legal authority to administer the estate.
3) Administration And Settling Further Tax
Once a Grant of Representation has been issued, the assets of the deceased are liquidated to settle liabilities, pay any of the Estate’s admin expenses and cover Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax owed by the estate.
4) Preparation Of Estate Account Documents
At this phase, accounts which document payments in and out of the Estate should be prepared. These should show any balance left to be distributed between beneficiaries of the Estate. Estate account documentation should be sent to each Personal Representative (including the Executor of the deceased’s Will) for approval by all parties.
5) Transferral Of Assets
Providing there have been no challenges to the Estate, or other complicating factors which prevent distribution, the final phase of Probate will begin. This involves the transferral of assets and distribution of funds to each beneficiary.
Probate can be a long and stressful process, particularly when family members are struggling with bereavement. Making errors during Probate can be costly and can delay the process of dividing assets and funds, which is why it’s important to have a solicitor you can trust to take care of the complex legal paperwork, disputes and other issues that can arise during this time.
If you’d like to know more about the Probate process, and how Bowsers can help, why not get in touch with us today? A member of our friendly and experienced team will be happy to assist with your queries.