Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died is often a daunting and stressful task at what is clearly a difficult time.
After someone dies their estate (i.e. their money, property and possessions) needs to be dealt with by the executor named in their Will. Where applicable, the executor needs to obtain the necessary legal permission to do this – which is known as ‘Probate’.
Finding the Will:
• Going through the deceased’s paperwork, or requesting a copy from his or her solicitor or bank, or;
• If there is not a will, identifying the next of kin who can take on the role of administering the estate.
Applying for the grant of representation:
• Completing the probate application form.
• Filling in the inheritance tax forms for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) including providing valuations of the deceased’s assets and calculating how much tax there may be to pay.
• Sending the above forms and relevant fees to the Probate Office.
• Swearing an oath that all the information provided is correct to the best of your knowledge, that you are entitled to take out the grant and that you will administer the estate in accordance with the law.
Administering the estate:
• Sending copies of the grant of representation to the deceased’s bank and other asset holders.
• Advertising for creditors to come forward with any outstanding debts the deceased owed them.
• Liquidating the assets to provide funds to pay debts, taxes and the beneficiaries of the estate.
Preparing estate accounts:
• Drawing up financial accounts which show all the transactions coming into and going out of the deceased’s estate.
• Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries as highlighted in the will, or as deemed by law if there is not a will. See our section on Intestacy here.
The time taken to undertake the work necessary to take care of an estate will vary significantly depending on a number of factors. It is not possible to provide a general price for the work.
However, we do not charge based on a percentage of an estate but instead on the complexity of the work and time taken to resolve issues. We can either work to a fixed fee or charge on a time basis. If the latter we will provide you with an estimate in advance of undertaking any work.
The case studies provide examples of the scope of work that we undertake and the possible associated fees.
It is also difficult to provide a general timeline for probate services as there are many things that can affect the process. What we seek to do is work with the executors and keep them informed of progress on a regular basis so that they know where we are with a case.
As a basic guide:
1. It may take two to three months to identify and value assets/liabilities and prepare the Inheritance Tax forms and apply for probate
2. Selling assets and collecting in money may take three to six months depending on the market for those assets.
3. Selling tax liabilities, preparing estate accounts and making final payments to beneficiaries may take two months.
At the outset we will provide an estimate of fees keep you appraised as the case progresses. If we identify anything that is likely to significantly alter the fee we will bring this to your attention as soon as possible.
For us communication during what is likely to be a difficult time is an essential part of delivering the client service that has built our reputation.
Acting on behalf of executors
We have undertaken assignments where the estate required completion of the Inheritance tax forms and computation of the tax payable but had well understood assets
The work included Identifying assets, valuing the estate, calculation of Inheritance Tax, completion and submission of the Inheritance Tax forms and obtaining acknowledgement from HMRC
The solicitors who were named as joint executors filed a Renunciation (Form PA17) when they heard that we had been instructed to deal with the IHT matters, leaving our client as the sole executor.
Applying for probate.
The executor dealt with the administration of the estate although some hand-holding was required.
Accounting for estate and completing the necessary returns
Total fees about £10,000 (including VAT)
If you are an executor, we can help you with probate and take some of the stress off you at this difficult time. For many people, the roles and responsibilities of being an executor are very onerous, especially when they are going through a stressful time. So, they prefer to appoint an authorised professional firm to deal with the Probate on their behalf – either in part or in full. This is where we can help you.
Your case will be dealt with sensitively and efficiently throughout and will not take any longer than is absolutely necessary. Each case will of course vary according to circumstances. For a free probate consultation contact Tom Slator.