If a loved one has passed away, and you have been appointed the Executor in their Will, you are responsible for administering and distributing the estate in accordance with their wishes. Often, a ‘Grant of Probate’ will be needed for this.
What is a Grant of Probate?
A Grant of Probate is a document which confirms your entitlement as the Executor to legally deal with the assets (or liabilities!) of the deceased. The term is often used to refer to a Grant of Letters of Administration, which is the equivalent process when there is no Will. So if someone you are related to dies without a Will, it is important to establish whether you are the person entitled to apply.
The process of obtaining a Grant of Probate will initially involve calculating how much the estate is worth. This is done by collating information about bank accounts held, getting valuations for any real estate property, the value of any personal possessions, or other assets such as pensions and share portfolios. It also means ensuring you are aware of any liabilities or outstanding debts, and the full extent of these.
This information will be used to see if there is any inheritance tax (IHT) payable from the estate prior to applying for the Grant. This will have to be given to the HMRC by way of various IHT forms, and if the estate is worth more than £325,000, IHT may have to be paid (if no exemptions apply). IHT is currently at the rate of 40% for any such figure above the £325,000 nil rate band.
It is only once the IHT has been paid and then Oath “sworn” by the Executor, that a Grant of Probate can be applied for and issued by the Probate Registry. Once this is obtained, the Executor can carry out their duties and distribute the estate.
Changes happening from May 2017
At the moment, the current fee for a Probate application is a set rate of £155 (plus 50 pence for each further copy), no matter the size of the estate. However, the Government has announced that it intends to increase the Probate fees in England and Wales, moving to a ‘banded’ system.
This means that the Probate application fee will increase in relation to the size of the estate. These changes may be of benefit to those who have an estate worth less than £50,000; as it is envisaged that there will be no fee for estates up to this amount. However, the Probate application fees for estates valued at £50,000 and over start at £300 and gradually increase up to £20,000 for estates worth over £2million.
How can Giles Wilson help?
At Giles Wilson, we can assist throughout this process. We can confirm firstly, if the estate is one for which a Grant of Probate is needed. We can also help you as Executor in obtaining the correct valuations for the return to HMRC. If there are any potential exemptions, we can advise of these, ensuring the estate does not bear any unnecessary IHT liability. Practical advice will also be given as to how you as the Executor can pay the IHT before the Grant is issued (because before then you cannot access the deceased’s accounts). Our team will also prepare the Oath for you, and submit your application to the Registry.
At Giles Wilson, our Wills, Trusts and Probate solicitors offer a straightforward, practical and timely service, dealing with any estate or legal issue in the most sympathetic and efficient way. If you would like to request a consultation with one of our expert team members, please use our contact form or call us on 01702 477106.