Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration

Although a large majority of British people do not have a valid will, the benefits of having such a document cannot be overstated. A valid will carries the assurance that a person’s estate will be divided between beneficiaries of its choice in the manner set out in the will.

For a free initial consultation please call 01753 592 000

PROBATE & LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION

Application for a grant of probate or letters of administration is usually accomplished by sending appropriate forms to the probate registry for the area in which the deceased previously resided.

Where the deceased made a valid will and the document is available, the application to the registry is for grant of probate; where no such will is available after diligent enquiry or simply does not exist, the application to the same registry on the same forms is for grant of letters of administration.

Within 4 to 6 weeks of application, the registry will have notified the applicant of a time, date and county court venue for the applicant to attend for “an interview”. This process involves a meeting with a representative of the probate court during which the applicant swears an oath confirming that factual details in the application previously made, were true to the best of the applicant’s knowledge.

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Dealing with Probate is something that almost everyone will have to deal with at one point or another in their lives, but what is it?

At an already very difficult time, dealing with probate can seem very daunting and complicated, but we can help simplify matters.

When a person passes away, before their assets can be released, the Probate Registry will issue a formal ‘Grant of Probate’. The Grant is a document which states who is legally entitled to deal with the deceased’s estate.

Probate was previously required on all estates over £5,000. However, as of May 2017, the threshold has been increased such that it is now only required on estates over £50,000.

Only when you have obtained Probate will you be able to sell the house or close bank accounts over the probate limit.

Applying for Probate will vary slightly depending on whether the deceased passed away with or without a Will.

If the deceased passed away without a Will, the form of ‘probate’ will be called obtaining Letters of Administration. If the deceased held a valid Will, the process is called obtaining Grant of Probate.

In order to apply for either the Grant or Letters of Administration, the Executor (the person named in the Will to deal with the estate) (or Personal Representative “PR” in the case of Letters of Administration) will be required to:

1. Obtain valuations of the deceased’s estate i.e. property valuation, obtaining closing bank statements, final bills etc;

2. Once the Executor or PR has full details of the deceased’s estate at the date of his death including all assets and liabilities, they will then need to complete the probate application form;

3. The Executor or PR will need to complete the applicable Inheritance Tax form. There are two forms – the IHT205 and the IHT400. The latter is much more detailed and this is only required where there is inheritance tax payable;

4. Pay the Inheritance Tax (where payable); and

5. Swear an Oath for Executors or PR.

The fees to apply for probate are currently £215 for a personal application and £155 where an application is made by a solicitor on your behalf.

The process can be very time consuming and can take months or even years to complete depending on the size and complexity of the estate of the deceased.

If you require assistance with obtaining Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration contact us today for a free consultation.

There is a duty imposed upon Executors under the Administration of Estates Act 1971 to:

  • Collect and get in the real and personal estate of the deceased and administer it according to law;
  • When required to do so by the court, exhibit on oath in the court a full inventory of the estate and when so required render an account of the administration of the estate to the court; and
  • When required to do so by the High Court, deliver up the grant of probate or administration to that court.

Failure to deal with an estate promptly and properly can lead to sanctions from the courts.

Unfortunately as the current system stands, Inheritance Tax (if payable) is required to be paid at the time probate is applied for i.e. before the assets are able to be properly released.

The current threshold for Inheritance Tax is £325,000.

As of 6 April 2017, a ‘Family Home Allowance’ of £100,000 was introduced. The new allowance will increase by £25,000 a year until 2020. Estates over £2million however will have no allowance at all. The Family Home Allowance will only apply if the property is left to a direct descendant

Tax is due at the end of the sixth month after someone has passed away.

There are a number of exemptions and reliefs available.

1. Transferable Nil Rate Band

The most common used exemption is the ‘Transferable Nil Rate Band’. Where a couple are married or in a civil partnership, the assets passing to the deceased’s spouse/civil partner will be free of inheritance tax (due to “spouse exemption”). Any unused inheritance tax threshold will pass to the surviving spouse/civil partner to utilise on their death. For example, if a husband left everything to his wife in his Will, he will not have utilised any of his £325,000 allowance. On the death of his wife, she will have his unused allowance of £325,000 combined with her own allowance to create a double allowance of £650,000.

2. Potentially Exempt Transfers

You can give assets away during your lifetime. If you survive within 7 years of making that gift, it will not be included within your estate for inheritance tax purposes. If you fail to survive for 7 years, the amount of relief available will ‘taper’ i.e. the longer you survive from making the gift, the lower the tax rate.  To qualify, the gift must either be an outright and unconditional gift or a gift to a vulnerable person’s trust.

3. Annual Exemptions and small gifts

An individual can give £3,000 to another individual without any liability to inheritance tax every year.

4. Business and Agricultural Property

There are a wide number of exemptions available to business assets including unquoted shares, farming and farming assets. Please contact us for further details on these.

We are sensitive to an individual’s requirements and requests at this difficult time. Please call us today for a free consultation and we will be happy to guide you through the process and explain the steps most applicable to your situation. We offer services to just obtain probate or where you are unable, to deal with the whole administration of the estate to ensure that the process is as seamless and efficient as possible.

It is already an incredibly difficult time when you have lost a loved one but sometimes the anguish doesn’t stop there. Executors have a strong duty to ensure that the administration of an estate is being handled correctly but what if you feel that the wishes set out in a Will are not being adhered to?

Conversely, what if you felt the Will was not valid? Or that you felt a vulnerable person had been taken advantage of?

Unfortunately probate is becoming more and more contentious. We have extensive experience in matters relating to:

  • Failure of executors to comply with their duties
  • Failure to create a trust
  • Failure to maintain and administer a trust correctly including meeting financial obligations
  • Depriving beneficiaries of their entitled inheritance
  • Claims relating to invalid wills including duress, mental incapacity and undue influence
  • Claims for inheritance provisions under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975)

We understand the sensitive nature of contentious probate and provide tactful and cost conscious advice to trustees, executors, beneficiaries and dependents alike.

Please call us today to arrange free consultation where can discuss any issues you may be facing in more detail.

Some Wills include discretionary or lifetime trusts for the benefit of minors or vulnerable beneficiaries. Trustees are elected by the person making the Will and are entrusted with carrying out the wishes of the donor as per the terms of their Will.

Setting up a trust can be complex and time consuming depending on the nature of the trust. We have specialised solicitors who can assist you with each step of the process to ensure the trust is set up properly.

Unfortunately on occasion, a trustee may not fully comply with their duties or mismanage the trust at the detriment of the beneficiaries.

We have experience in:

  • Explaining trustees duties
  • Setting up trusts
  • Dealing with breaches of trustees duties and obligations
  • Misappropriating trust assets
  • Refusal to pay capital/income from a trust asset
  • Inappropriate investments by a trustee

Call us to arrange a free consultation to see how we can assist you to ensure your future is well protected as the donor envisaged.

Let us call you back

If you require legal assistance and would like someone to call you to discuss the issue, complete your information in the online enquiry form here and one of our solicitors will be in touch with you to tell you how we can help.

Alternatively you can contact us on 01753 592 000

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