Estate administration is the process of collecting in all of the deceased’s assets such as money, property, shares, then settling all liabilities such as funeral and estate expenses, debts and any tax liabilities before distributing the balance to the beneficiaries.
Distribution is carried out either in accordance with the deceased’s Will or the Intestacy Rules, if no valid Will exists.
‘Probate’ is the term often used to describe the legal process of applying to the Probate Registry to obtain proof of authority to deal with a deceased person’s estate. The generic name given to the document issued by the Probate Registry is a ‘Grant of Representation’.
Here at McNeil & Co. we know that the loss of a loved one is never easy.
Dealing with someone’s estate at a time of grief and high emotion can often be overwhelming and confusing and many people are not familiar with the processes and legal requirements involved. We have an experienced team who can assist you with every aspect of the probate process, reducing the administrative burden and advising sensitively on key decisions which need to be made. We will deal with the estate sympathetically, keeping you updated at every stage of the process.
Whether there is a Will or not the person dealing with the Estate is under a legal duty to maximise the assets, minimise the liabilities and distribute as much as possible to the persons entitled to a share of the Estate. Having compassionate, experienced legal advice can make this difficult situation much easier on you and your loved ones and Andrew Jay & Co. would be happy to assist you in the administration of an Estate whether you have been appointed as Executor under a Will or, if there is no Will, you wish to act as Administrator under the Intestacy Rules.
If the deceased left a Will, then this sets out who they have appointed to be the Executor and Trustee. If you have been appointed as the Executor then we can advise and assist you in relation to this role and the process of applying for and obtaining a Grant of Probate.
If the deceased did not leave a Will, the Will is invalid or did not appoint executors we can advise you who can apply to take on the role of Administrator and assist you in applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
We can also advise in relation to any difficulties that arise including:-
• What to do if a person doesn’t wish to act as an Executor or an Administrator
• What to do when a beneficiary has died
• How to trace a missing beneficiary and how to invest their share of the Estate in the interim period
Please see the Our Prices page for details.
We can help you through this difficult process by obtaining the Grant on your behalf. This will be provided to the Executors/Administrators who then deal with the remainder of the administration themselves. We offer this fixed price on estates where a full Inheritance Tax account is not required. We will:
• Identify the legally appointed executors, administrators and beneficiaries
• Identify and prepare the type of Probate application you will require
• Obtain from you details of the estate and the necessary documents required to make the application
• Complete the Probate Application and the relevant HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Forms.
• Draft a legal Oath for you to swear
• Arrange an appointment for you to swear the Oath if required
• Make the application to the Probate Registry on your behalf
• Obtain the Grant of Probate and send copies to you to enable you to undertake the administration of the estate yourself
If you decide you do not want to deal with the administration of the estate we would be happy to do this on your behalf. Charges are on a time spent basis (i.e. by the hour for the work done) and these costs are payable by the estate. Each matter will be different and the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances and complexity of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary and one property, costs will be at the lower end of the estimated range or less. If there are multiple assets and beneficiaries and foreign property, costs will be at the higher end.
On average it takes between one and three months to obtain the Grant.
Straightforward cases are based on there being:-
• no more than one property involved
• no more than 5 bank accounts and 2 shareholdings
• 1 to 5 beneficiaries
• no business or farm interests
• no disputes between beneficiaries on division of assets
• no claims made against the estate
• no Inheritance Tax issues and a full tax return is not required.
We anticipate that a matter such as the above would take on average between 20 and 30 hours work. The work involved and therefore the fees will vary depending on issues such as the number of beneficiaries and whether the estate includes any property, multiple bank accounts, shares and based on the number and value of any property. In addition to the work required to obtain the grant this service will include:
• Arranging for assets to be sold/cashed/transferred.
• Arranging for the placement of Trustee Act Notices (if required).
• Arrangement for the payment of liabilities (including ongoing bills at any property)
• Preparation of the estate accounts and for the approval of the accounts by the Executors.
• Distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries, including obtaining their identification and arranging for bankruptcy searches to be conducted
• Liaising with HMRC in respect of any estate income tax liability
On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within four to nine months.
Grant of Representation application and estate administration – full HMRC inheritance tax account required.
In addition to the steps detailed above we can obtain the details of the estate assets and liabilities with valuations on your behalf and prepare the full Inheritance Tax account and calculate the IHT due (including non taxable estates where the full account is required). We can then prepare and submit the application to the Probate Registry together with the IHT account and pay any inheritance tax due to HMRC. (Further details about inheritance tax can be found at https://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax.).
We anticipate that a matter such as the one set out immediately above may take between 35 and 55 hours work.
This estimate is based on there being up to 3 properties involved, several shareholdings and bank accounts. The fees will increase if the tax position is more complex, for instance if foreign properties are involved and trusts established. This estimate includes all the steps set out above and additionally:
• Preparation of the full account for HMRC and arranging approval by the Executors
• Arranging for the payment of any tax from the deceased’s assets
• Liaising with HMRC to obtain clearance from the estate and answering any enquiries
• Arranging for the completion of any tax return required for the deceased up to the date of death
There are various factors that will affect any Inheritance Tax due on an estate, including the size of the estate and any measures that were put in place by the deceased to limit the estates tax liability.
Our fees include the steps detailed above, however there may be factors which would typically increase the cost of the fees involved. In all cases where additional costs are likely to arise, we will give you an accurate quote once we have the information and agree any additional fees with you. Some of the more common reasons that fees may increase are set out below:
• If there is no Will, (which can also cause delay as there will be a need to search for a valid Will and to identify the Administrators entitled to deal with the estate)
• If the estate involves any digital assets* or other assets where there may be issues with obtaining passwords or otherwise accessing the relevant information
• If HMRC raises an enquiry into the Inheritance Tax Return (which will also delay the administration of the estate)
• If any disputes arise (such as a dispute between executors or beneficiaries) (this will also mean that the estate is unlikely to be finalised until all disputes or claims have been resolved)
• If a Caveat is entered at the Probate Registry which will require removal
• If the estate includes missing beneficiaries (which can also cause delay to the administration of the estate)
• If the estate includes historic or dormant assets which involves establishing the validity of the assets and dealing with the collection and distribution of these assets
• If there is missing documentation (share certificates, insurance policies, marriage/birth certificates etc)
• If there are any business assets or interests in farms which need to be taken into account then valuing, reporting and dealing with any division of assets may be necessary
• If there were any lifetime gifts made in excess of the annual allowances then the details of the gifts will need to be established and reported on the Inheritance Tax forms
• If the deceased had any interests in a trust
• Claiming reliefs and exemptions from Inheritance Tax
• Establishing and claiming the residence nil rate band and transferable residence nil rate band (especially if downsizing of the property has occurred)
Additional services that will require the assistance of a third party at additional cost include:
• Tax advice;
• Valuations for property, savings, investments or other assets;
• Property clearance and costs of selling contents and personal belongings;
• Legal fees for sale or transfer of property and land and any agent’s fees and HM Land Registry fees on transfer;
• Any taxes payable including Inheritance Tax, Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax etc.;
• Any insurance required during the estate administration.
On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within six to twelve months.
The following are the key milestones in the administration of an estate. However all estates will vary according to the individual matter:
• Applying for Grant of Probate;
• Obtaining Grant of Probate;
• Selling property;
• Collecting in the assets;
• Settling Liabilities;
• Producing Estate accounts;
• Distributing funds.
We occasionally come across more difficult cases, where there may be particular difficulties within an estate, or tensions within families. We are experienced in resolving such issues and achieving positive outcomes for all parties. When this is not possible, we are able to access mediation services to try and avoid costly litigation, or otherwise we will often be able to refer you to our contentious probate team.
|Administrator||Person entitled to deal with a Deceased’s estate where there is no valid Will or no executor able or willing to act. The Intestacy Rules set out who is entitled to act.|
|Beneficiary||A person or entity, such as a charity, who is to receive assets from or an interest in an estate.|
|Caveat||A Caveat can be filed at the Probate Registry following an application, which will prevent a Grant of Probate being issued until the Caveat is removed. Caveats are designed to prevent a probate application perhaps where there is a dispute over the validity of the Will or over the people entitled to apply for the Grant.|
|Codicil||A legal document that amends a previously executed will. A codicil must comply with the same legal requirements and be executed in the same way as a Will.|
|Disbursements||Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees.|
|Executor/Executrix||Person appointed under a Will to deal with the Deceased’s estate.|
|Grant of Letters of Administration||Legal document confirming an Administrators’ authority to deal with an estate.|
|Grant of Probate||Legal document confirming an Executor’s authority to deal with an estate.|
|Guardian||Someone appointed under a will to look after children under the age of eighteen.|
|HMRC account||This is either a short account (IHT205) usually where there is no inheritance tax to pay and matters are straightforward. In more complex matters or where Inheritance Tax is payable then a full account (IHT400) is required.|
|Inheritance Tax Threshold||The amount above which Inheritance Tax will become due. If the value of the estate falls below this threshold (taking into account lifetime gifts etc.) no Inheritance Tax will be due.|
|Intangible assets||Assets that are not physical including goodwill or intellectual property rights (copyright, patents etc).|
|Intestate||Someone who dies without making a will. The deceased’s estate will be dealt with under the Intestacy laws.|
|Nil band rate||The threshold below which an estate pays no inheritance tax.|
|Personal representative||Person appointed to deal with an estate. If there is a Will, the personal representative is known as the Executor, and if there is no Will or executor able or willing to act, the personal representative is known as the Administrator.|
|Probate Registry||The probate offices that issue Grants of Representation are known as Probate Registries.|
|Proving a Will||This is the confirmation by the Probate Registry, following the application for a Grant of Representation, that the Will is valid and accepted as the last known Will of the deceased.|
|Residence nil rate band||The additional threshold to the nil rate band which relates solely to a residential property interest passing to specific family members.|
|Residuary Estate||The deceased’s estate after all assets have been collected in and debts paid.|
|Testator/Testatrix||Person who makes a will.|
|Transferable nil rate band||The amount of unused nil band which can be transferred between spouses estates on death.|
|Transferable residence nil rate band||The amount of unused residence nil rate band which can be transferred between spouses estates on death.|
|Trust||Where one or more people (trustees) hold property on behalf of others (beneficiaries).|