Experienced Probate Specialists
Here at Northwood Banks & Co Ltd, we understand that bereavement is often a difficult & emotional time. Dealing with the legal side of things, the HMRC, and attending courts to address matters like Inheritance Tax may seem complex and bewildering.
Fortunately, you need not face this legal and financial worry on your own. With our help these matters can be dealt with quickly and for the minimum of cost, so that you can get on with rebuilding your life.
What is probate?
Most estates have to go through probate, whether you leave a will or not. It ensures the deceased estate passes to the right people and all tax due on death is identified and collected.
If your estate is over five thousand pounds, before it can be collected for distribution, a Grant of Probate must be obtained. This means the will must be formally recognised at the local Probate Registry. Banks, building societies, and insurance companies will often insist on seeing a Grant of Probate before they pay out and your house will not be able to be sold.
If your estate is worth more than £325,000 it may be liable to Inheritance Tax and you would be wise to enlist the help of a professional. If you are acting as an Executor in a will then you are personally liable for any debts, so professional advice is essential.
Do I need probate?
So that we can establish whether probate is required in your situation, please contact us, and talk directly to one of our advisors who will give you free advice and tell you how to proceed. We are able to arrange a free appointment at your home in order to assess your particular situation. During this visit you will be advised how to proceed on your own should you feel able to, or we can give you an all-inclusive price for Northwood Banks to administer the estate on your behalf.
Our price is not an hourly rate, but a total fixed price to deal with all aspects of the estate. There are no deposits, and our fee is payable from the estate at the end of administration, which ensures that we will not delay in our administration. We will then take away all relevant documents and begin correspondence, providing you with regular updates until we have finalised all aspects of the estate administration.
Duties of Executors
Register the death
Obtain copies of the death certificate.
Arrange the funeral
Most banks and building societies will pay the funeral bill before probate is granted. When you ask Northwood Banks & Co Ltd to deal with the legal process, we can usually get the funeral paid from the deceased’s own bank or building society, avoiding relatives having to pay from their own funds.
Apply for a grant of probate
This will usually involve a visit to the court where you will be required to swear an oath. If you ask Northwood Banks & Co Ltd to deal with this on your behalf, you will not be required to attend court.
Open a personal representative's bank account
This will be used for the receipt of money due to the Estate and any loan arranged to pay an Inheritance Tax bill and/or probate fees.
Inform all relevant persons and organisation
Banks, building societies, life assurance companies, employers, local authorities, HMRC, and benefit agencies will all need to be informed.
Valuation of the estate
This will include the house and its contents, other personal effects, investments in savings plans, equities, life policies, building societies etc. Draw up a detailed schedule of all the deceased's assets.
If you are acting as an Executor in a will, then you are personally liable for any debts, so professional advice is essential.
Draw up a Full Schedule of Debts That Must Be Paid from the Proceeds of the Estate
These will include mortgages, income and capital gains taxes, bills, credit cards, loans, and overdrafts.
Complete All Legal Forms
This includes forms required by the HMRC Capital Taxes Office so that it can be established whether any Inheritance Tax is due.
Complete the Probate Forms
These must be filled in and sent or taken to the Probate Office along with the original will, the death certificate and the HMRC account.
- When inheritance tax is due, the executor's account of the estate is passed to the HMRC and the Grant of Probate cannot be issued until the tax is paid. There will be circumstances where part of the Estate has to be sold to pay Inheritance Tax and if this is the case banks can arrange loan facilities to pay the tax straight away.
- Please note: There are occasions where Inheritance Tax can be mitigated. This is a highly specialised field of legal and financial expertise, contact us for guidance if an estate is over £325,000 (Current Inheritance tax threshold).
- Copies of the Grant of Probate should be sent to everyone who owes money to the estate. both accounts, insurance policies, shares, property, and other savings and assets will need to be collected in, sold, or transferred to beneficiaries.
- Any outstanding bills will need to be settled, such as credit cards, loans, mortgages, and all utilities e.g. gas, electricity, council tax and water rates paid.
- When the Grant of Probate is received, the estate can be divided according to the terms of the Will. The Executor must prepare and sign accounts showing who has received what from the distribution. They must be able to show that they acted in accordance with the terms of the Will in case there is any dissent from the family of the deceased.
- All papers, including the Grant of Probate and the accounts, must be stored safely for a period of 12 years.