A Grant of Probate may be required to enable the executors of a deceased person to administer the estate if a Will has been made. In the case of a person dying intestate (without having made a Will) then a Grant of Letters of Administration may be required to enable a close relative to administer the estate.
Both of these are referred to as a Grant of Representation and is obtained from the Probate Registry. Executors and Administrators are jointly known as Personal Representatives.
Some estates may be administered without a Grant of Representation. For example, the deceased’s home may have been held jointly with his/her spouse or partner under what is termed a joint tenancy. On the death of one of the joint owners, the share of the deceased automatically passes to the survivor irrespective of the terms of any Will. The share will pass without a Grant of Representation.
There may be joint bank accounts and the deceased’s share in these also pass automatically to the survivor. Further, most banks will release balances in bank accounts where the balance is not large (balances up to £15,000.00 usually).
Therefore, if the estate only includes a home held under a joint tenancy, joint bank accounts and/or small bank accounts then a Grant of Representation will not be required at all and the estate can be administered relatively easily.
The basic steps involved in obtaining a Grant of Representation are:
- The Personal Representatives should make contact with all banks/building societies and other financial bodies holding balances due to the deceased’s estate requesting figures for the balances held as at the date of death. They should also ascertain what debts the deceased had and will need to go through the deceased’s papers to assist with this;
- Once all financial institutions have provided details of assets and debts then these figures must be inserted in the relevant Inheritance Tax Return and any inheritance tax due should be calculated. There is no inheritance tax due on the majority of estates;
The Tax Return should be sent to HMRC and any inheritance tax due at this stage should be paid. It is possible to elect to pay the tax in instalments on certain types of property such as the deceased’s house;
- Banks will release money held in the deceased’s bank account to pay the tax;
HMRC will issue a receipt for the tax paid and the Personal Representatives should send this together with the completed form of application for a Grant of Representation to the Probate Registry;
- The Probate Registry should issue the Grant of Representation a few weeks later and this document will enable the estate to be administered by collecting in any assets due to the estate and arranging payment of debts;
- Once the Personal Representatives have collected all of the assets and paid any debts (including inheritance tax and any other taxes due from the deceased) they will be able to distribute the balance in accordance with the terms of the Will or, in the case of an intestacy, in accordance with the rules of intestacy. However, they should firstly prepare an Estate Account showing all money collected and paid out with the balances due to each of the beneficiaries. The Personal Representatives should send this account to the beneficiaries for approval before distributing the estate.Please do get in touch so that you can be provided with a fixed price quotation. Our telephone number is 0203 488 5495 and email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Bluett – Consultant
3rd May 2020