The Probate Process - What Happens?

Probate Process, probate, estate planning

When someone passes away in England and Wales, there is a process that has to be followed in order for the assets of the deceased to be distributed in accordance with the Will. In most instances, a Will includes a named executor and, in order for the executor to carry out the wishes of the Will and manage the estate, they will need to go through the process of probate.

Obtaining probate will give them the legal authority to handle the estate of the deceased individual which includes everything that they owned. Not everyone will need to go through the probate process when a loved one passes away but, if you do, then this step-by-step guide will help you to understand what is involved.

Step 1

All of the assets of the deceased individual will need to be identified and valued and this can include the likes of property, possessions and investments. You will also need to identify all of their liabilities, such as loans and outstandiing bills, as this will help to identify the value of their estate.

At the same time, it’s important to verify entitlement to the estate under the terms of the Will or in line with Intestacy Laws if no Will exists. It is then a requirement to obtain all identification documents of the beneficiaries and check that they are not subject to a bankruptcy order or IVA.

Step 2

After the above, all Inheritance Tax that is due on the estate will need to be paid to HM Revenue & Customs where required. The correct Inheritance Tax return will need to be submitted and this is required regardless of whether there is any tax due or not. Furthermore, an application will need to be submitted to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation, which is a document confirming the legal authority to administer the Estate.

Step 3

Once the Grant of Representation has been obtained from the Probate Registry, selling the assets of the deceased individual, settling their liabilities and paying all administration expenses in relation to the Estate will need to be carried out..

Step 4

All Estate accounts will need to be prepared as this will document all payments into and out of the Estate, eventually showing the remaining balance that will be distributed to all beneficiaries. These accounts need to be approved by the executors and any residuary beneficiaries. They may also need to be provided to other individuals if there are not enough assets in the estate to pay all the gifts in a Will.

Step 5

If there are no challenges made to the Will or any other complications that can cause delays to distribution, then the final part of the process will involve transferring all assets that the beneficiaries want to keep and distributing the balance of the Estate funds.

The process above may seem relatively straightforward, but this depends on what assets and liabilities were in the estate. The good news is that there is assistance available should you need it. A variety of services are available from help completing the required forms to assistance with dealing with the entire estate.