- Whether the deceased left a Will or not, the first step in administering the estate is to establish what assets and liabilities the deceased left.
- If the estate is small, there is no inheritance tax to pay, and if any particular account is under £5,000 (and in some cases more), then usually banks, building societies and other institutions will pay the sum to the appropriate person if they sign a document to say they are entitled to the money.
- If the estate consists entirely of joint property, all that may be needed is for copies of the death certificate to be produced to transfer the property to the surviving owner. However it still might be necessary for an inheritance tax return to be submitted (see below).
- Otherwise, in order to get access to the assets in the deceased’s estate and transfer them to the beneficiaries, the PRs will need to obtain a grant of probate or letters of administration (i.e. the grant of representation).
- A grant of representation will only be issued once the PRs have the details of all the assets and liabilities in the estate and, if required, submitted a full inventory of the estate (the ‘inheritance tax return’) and paid any inheritance tax due.
- What type of inheritance tax return is necessary largely depends on the size of the gross estate including the deceased’s share of joint property. Usually the larger inheritance tax return is only necessary if the gross estate is over the nil rate band available at the time.
- Paying the inheritance tax before the grant of representation is issued can cause problems. The difficulty is that without the grant the PRs cannot generally get access to the assets in the deceased’s estate to raise the money to pay the tax.
- Once the IHT return has been completed the PRs will sign a statement of truth giving details of them and the deceased and confirming the gross and net values of the deceased’s estate. The affidavit will then be submitted to the Probate Registry with the will (if there is one).
- Once the grant of representation is issued the PRs can begin the task of winding up the estate. They will have to gather in all the deceased's assets and settle the deceased’s debts and the expenses of administering the estate.
- The executors will often prepare a set of estate accounts for the beneficiaries at the end of the day to show how their shares of the estate are made up. The estate will be said to have been wound up, and the administration of it completed, once all assets and liabilities have been accounted for, and the net estate paid out to the beneficiaries.
Complete Guide to Probate
We have prepared a complete guide that is intended as an introduction to probate and estate administration, i.e. the steps that need to be taken to deal with a person’s assets and affairs after he or she has died. To download this guide please complete the webform below.