When someone wishes to leave property, money or other valuables to friends or relatives after they die, they will need to have a written will. While it may seem to be a straightforward process, there are still many legal hurdles to jump when assets are transferred to another person in a will. This process involves proving that the executor has the authority to administer the will, which is called probate.
What is Probate?
When someone leaves a will, they will name an executor or an administrator to make sure their final wishes are carried out as specified in the will. This person will have to show proof they are authorised to handle these duties by applying for a Grant of Probate. A Grant of Probate is usually necessary when a will includes:
- Monetary assets of £10,000 or more
- Shares or stocks
- Certain types of insurance policies
- Land or property under the deceased’s name or as a “tenant in common”
The bank or financial institutions holding the deceased’s assets will want to see the Grant of Probate before they will give the executor control of the assets. If you have been made an executor or administer of a will, you will want to hire a probate solicitor in London to help you through the process because it can become complicated depending on the amount or type of assets left by the deceased.
Duties of the Executor
The executor or administer of a will has many duties to perform after the deceased has passed and once probate is granted. There are generally five steps in the probate processing:
- Determining the Estate’s Value – This is done by identifying all of the deceased’s assets, which may include money, land or property, stocks and other investments. The deceased’s liabilities will also need to be identified during this step, which will include any utility bills, outstanding loans, a mortgage or other debts.
- Pay Inheritance Tax – The executor will need to make sure the appropriate inheritance taxes are paid to the HMRC and file a return on those taxes.
- Liquidating Estate – This step involves selling the assets of the deceased in order to pay their liabilities and filing the appropriate tax returns with the HRMC. These returns include inheritance tax returns, income tax and any capital gains taxes.
- Preparing Financial Documents – Documents showing what was liquidated, which debts were paid, and the dispersal of assets to beneficiaries must be prepared. These documents will be sent to any other personal representatives listed in the will.
- Transferring Assets – As long as there are no challenges to the will, the final step will include transferring assets to the beneficiaries listed in the deceased’s will. It will also include distributing any of the estate’s funds that are left over after all liabilities have been settled.
A will that includes several different types of assets can become complicated and, if the will is challenged, you will need an attorney to help you with the probate process.