We shared last week in our blog post about how to conduct a probate, there are several initial probate stages that need to be taken care of.
We’ll discover below in the next stage of probate management just how integral portion of this process a will is. Research on the 2018 calendar year reveals that just 45% of adults in the UK have a will, which was an improvement of 7% from the previous year. Still, that also means that more than half of all adults still haven’t got one.
Here at TCB Life, we’ve put together a free 7-step guide to the processes involved in probate management on your own. You can download it here, and get a preview of what’s in there in the blog post below. We’ll talk in this space about a probate’s initial stages, and what you will need to take care of immediately.
Finding the probate will
For this next bit, let’s assume that the will does, in fact, exist. Given that is the case, the next step is to locate it.
Finding and inspecting the will can guide you in a variety of respects. Especially when it comes to ensuring that you meet loved one’s final wishes.
Most wills will explain which family members receive certain assets, whether that’s property, money or items of sentimental value. The will may leave instructions for funeral wishes and insurance policies in force, but most importantly is that it could name the executor.
What if there is no probate will?
If there isn’t a will in place, then intestacy laws will dictate how the estate should be allocated. This usually means that estate administration will be distributed to the next of kin. In turn, unmarried or divorced partners would not be entitled to a claim.
At least in the first instance.
Letters and permissions
To earn official permission to distribute someone’s estate, you’ll need something called a ‘grant of representation’.
Obtaining a grant of representation comes in two forms, both of which hinge on whether the person who died has produced a will.
Grant of probate
When you apply for a grant of probate, everything comes down to the presence of a will. Put simply: this hinges on whether someone has left a will or not.
In their will, the deceased should have named at least one ‘executor’ of the will. When it comes to who will obtain probate, bear in mind that more than one executor can be named.
Grant of letters of administration
If the deceased doesn’t have a will, doesn’t name an executor in their will or their will is invalid then you’ll have to apply for a grant of letters of administration.
This role is usually the responsibility of the next of kin. It prioritises marital or civil partners, children and grandchildren ahead of any other relatives. In most cases, a non-marital partner would not receive approval for a grant of letters of administration.
Once you’ve made your application for probate, you’ll need to complete an inheritance tax form. This form is going to tell HMRC whether the estate is liable for inheritance tax. Inheritance tax is a complicated matter in its own right and we’ll be covering that in further detail. But let’s keep it simple:
If an estate is worth over £325,000 and isn’t being left entirely to a spouse, the inheritance could very well be liable for inheritance tax.
Keep the following in mind as well. If you don’t think you will owe any inheritance tax, you’ll nevertheless still need to fill in and send off an inheritance tax application form.
Before officials can issue a grant of probate, any inheritance tax owing needs to be cleared.
Even before you have access to the deceased’s funds, if there’s enough money in their bank and building society accounts then the banks should release these funds directly to HMRC if you send them an IH423 form. If not, unfortunately, you’ll need to pay the bill yourself. Anything you pay can be recovered from the estate afterwards.
If you can’t afford to pay the inheritance tax bill, you might need to take out a loan. If this isn’t possible either, government services like HMRC may offer some support but only in extreme circumstances.
Click below to download the official TCB Life Seven-Step Probate Guide.