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What is Probate and Estate Administration?

Both probate and estate administration are associated with handling an individual’s estate after they’ve died but they are defined differently and often misunderstood. When it comes to probate, it’s a widely used term but there’s a lot of confusion about what it means and what is included in the probate process. On the other hand, estate administration is much less commonly known and referred to, even though the term more accurately describes the process of dealing with a deceased person’s estate.

What Is Probate?

Probate just refers to the 'Grant of Probate' which is required by law when the deceased owns property (including any houses, buildings or land) or if a financial institution (such as a bank) requires a 'Grant of Probate' to release funds. However, probate is not required if the estate is less than £5,000 in value or if the assets were held jointly so will pass to a surviving spouse or partner. It’s important to remember that if probate is required, the 'Grant of Probate' must be obtained before an Executor (if there is a Will) or an Administrator (if there is no Will) can start to gather in the assets associated with an estate.

Keep in mind that the 'Grant of Probate' is sometimes referred to as the 'Grant of Representation' or 'Letters of Administration'.

When probate is required and a Will has been left, there are 5 different stages that need to be followed before estate administration can begin:

  1. Obtaining the Will which appoints the Executor.
  2. Assessing the estate including:
  • Valuing property, savings, investments and any other assets
  • Calculating debts and liabilities
  • Assessing the details of accounts including stocks and shares
  • Valuing any other significant items

This assessment must be carried out based on the date of death. For example, it must be the value of the assets at the date of death or the outstanding debt value at the time of death.

  1. Completing the probate application known as PA1 in England and submitting Inheritance Tax forms to HMRC if necessary.
  2. Sending all details of the application including death certificate to the Probate Registry.
  3. Swearing an oath and receiving the “Grant of Probate” or "Letters of Administration".

What Is Estate Administration?

Estate administration is the process of dealing with a person’s legal and tax affairs after they’ve died.

If there’s no Will, it’s classed as an intestate estate and the assets will be distributed in line with the rules of Intestacy rather than the family wishes. If this is the case, it’s likely to make the estate administration process more complicated.

So What Could Be Involved In Estate Administration?

  • Completing all Inheritance Tax forms
  • Applying for probate or confirmation – Probate is often mistaken for the entire estate administration process, whereas it’s only a small part of what’s involved.
  • Income Tax work for the year of death
  • Valuing assets
  • Property valuation and sale
  • Specialist building insurance
  • Setting up Trusts in a Will
  • Postal redirection
  • Registering unregistered properties
  • Arranging for a pet to be re-homed
  • Cancelling or transferring utilities
  • Settling all liabilities
  • Distributing funds to beneficiaries
  • Producing estate accounts

If you or your family and friends have any questions about applying for the “Grant of Probate” or the estate administration process feel free to call us on 01793 433705 for free guidance and advice.

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