What is Probate?

The term “Probate” is widely used to describe what happens to someone’s property, money and possessions – their estate; when they die. This is also known as estate administration or administering the estate.

The process involved in administering an estate can be complex and time consuming. It includes things such as:

  • Establishing exactly what the person who died owned – their assets and what they owed – their debts;
  • Notifying government departments, such as the Passport Office, the DVLA and HMRC, as well as utility companies and any other relevant organisations; that the person has died;
  • Making sure the assets are secure and protected from damage or theft, especially in the case of a vacant property;
  • Preparing the Inheritance Tax forms and calculating the tax due to be paid and arranging payment of this when submitting the account to the HMRC;
  • Dealing with online accounts belonging to the person who has died to protect against misuse and identity theft;
  • Applying for and obtaining the Grant of Representation from the Court;
  • Identifying all those entitled to inherit from the estate – the beneficiaries; as specified in the Will or determined by the Law in the absence of a Will;
  • Closing bank accounts , collecting in money due to the estate, selling property and other assets or transferring these to the appropriate people or organisation;
  • Paying all debts, including mortgages, credit cards and loans as well as expenses incurred during the estate administration period;
  • Finalising the Income Tax for the person who has died and for the estate and clearing this with HMRC;
  • Preparing and distributing estate accounts to the beneficiaries, and to the Court if required;
  • Distributing the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries.

Dealing with the estate administration and being responsible as the personal representative, is not only time-consuming but also means that if you do something wrong, even unintentionally, then you can be personally liable and may have to put right any wrongdoing and settle any financial loss out of your own pocket.

As you can imagine or may well have experienced, dealing with the death of a loved one can be one of the most distressing times in a persons’ life and many of us struggle to cope – which is why many people choose to appoint a professional to act as their personal legal representative.

For further information, or quotation about our Probate service, please contact us on 0845 4900324 or email info@sterlingwills.co.uk.