This is a difficult time for everyone and unfortunately, a time when you are required to deal with copious amounts of paperwork, perhaps the sale of a property and things you do not feel capable of dealing with at this time. Family members can become agitated and not understand why the process isn’t dealt with within the date of the funeral and want their inheritance.
Probate is the closure of a person’s lifetime trail of bank accounts, pensions, stocks and shares, debts, possibly the sale of their house and the distribution of their estate as per their Will.
Stages of Probate
- Initial meeting. All paperwork is brought in by client to assess how large the deceased’s estate is worth.
- Terms &Conditions, GDPR and Client Care letters sent to client.
- Letters are sent to all financial companies Department of Work and Pensions, banks, businesses, insurance providers, etc., along with the Death Certificate.
- Once we have confirmation of the monies held by the deceased, we are able to complete the Inheritance Tax Form (whether it be ITH205 or IHT400) depending on the size of the estate.
- The Oath for Executors can now be prepared in readiness for swearing by the Executors named in the Will.
- The Executors/Executrixes are then asked to come in and swear the oath in front of an Independent Solicitor.
- The original Will, IHT forms and signed Oath are then sent to the Probate Registry with a cheque for the required amount plus any further copies required. We then await receipt of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (if the person died without a Will).
- Once the Grant has been obtained, signed closure forms are sent out to inform all the necessary companies and a request for any monies held to be released to our client account. If any monies are owed either to the DWP, bills for the household, etc., these will be settled and paid by monies held in the estate.
- Fussell Wright take their monies from the deceased’s estate and no monies are due from the Executors. Any monies paid out by the Executors regarding the administration can be claimed back upon production of receipts, e.g. payment for Death Certificates.
- Once all monies have been paid and all debts settled, Estate Accounts are prepared and sent to the Executors/Executrixes to view and confirm prior to releasing any monies.
- The property owner has to be amended at the Land Registry, either by removing the deceased’s name from a ‘jointly’ held property or by producing the Grant of Probate should the property have been held as ‘tenants in common’ with an assent into the new property owner’s name(s).
- Once the Estate Accounts have been confirmed, the monies are distributed according to the terms of the Will.
- The file is closed.
Find the Original Will
The original Will is normally stored with a Solicitor and is easily retrievable upon the production of an original Death Certificate and ID by all appointed Executors. If the original Will cannot be found, steps have to be taken to ensure that no Will has ever been made and is sitting in a Solicitors’ office elsewhere in the country. The estate cannot be distributed until this is confirmed.
Collect the Death Certificate from the Probate Registry
Once available, you can collect the Death Certificate by hand from the Probate Registry and it is recommended that you collect extra copies depending upon the size of the deceased’s estate as these documents will need to be produced to all financial companies the deceased had dealings with in their lifetime. 10 copies are recommended/suggested.
Schedule an appointment with a Solicitor
You will need to provide the Solicitor with all financial documents such as bank statements, pension companies, original Share Certificates (if any), NS&I certificates to enable them to ascertain the size of the deceased’s estate.
How much is a Grant of Probate?
The current flat fee of £155 (when using a Solicitor) is about to change when new rules come into play in April2019. It is cheaper to use a Solicitor to obtain the Grant of Probate in England and Wales as compared to £215 if you decide to take out the Grant personally.*
What are the disbursement fees?
|£7||Swear fee per person (or £5 if there is no Will)|
|£160||Grant of Probate x 10 copies|
|£3||Office Copy Entries, if required, to see how the property is held|
|Land Registry fees dependent on the price of the property – see ‘Conveyancing Fees’|
New Fees from April 2019*
New charges are coming into effect from April 2019:
|Up to £50,000||No charge|
|£50,000 – £300,000||£250|
|£300,000 – £500,000||£750|
|£500,000 to £1m||£2,500|
|£1m to £1.6m||£4,000|
|£1.6m – £2m||£5,000|
It is not yet clear how this will work in practice as this fee will be required on application yet banks may not release funds until a Grant of Probate is produced, even if the deceased holds these monies. Bank accounts are frozen upon production of the Death Certificate and, we cannot gain access in order to obtain the Grant. One bank recently suggested to us that we ‘crowd fund’! The banks might change their set-up at this time and release funds to pay for the Grant of Probate, just as they do for paying funeral fees at present but we need to wait and see.
Fussell Wright’s fees:
|Grant of Probate Only:||£500 plus VAT and disbursements|
|Swear fee||£7 / £5 per person if no Will held|
|Grant of Probate||£160 x 10 copies|
|Office Copy Entries||£3|
There is a choice of how you proceed: you can either ask for just the Grant of Probate to be obtained and then finalise the estate and distribute of estate yourself or ask the Solicitor to deal with the whole administration.
Estates are normally dealt with on an hourly basis as no two estates are the same. Everybody has a different amount of assets and every case is different.
Why does probate take so long?
A small estate can be wound-up relatively fast but if a person holds foreign assets, foreign stocks and shares, perhaps foreign property which needs to be sold, this can all cause a delay to the distribution of the estate and hold matters up.
Everyone has different bank accounts and assets and depending on how large your estate is will dictate on how long it takes to finalise and wind-up the estate. As an example, one of our client’s once held 47 different bank accounts, all of whom we had to write to individually, as would you if you were dealing with the estate.