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Probate Estate Administration

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					                            PROBATE FACT SHEET


Whether or not you were close to the person with whose estate we are dealing, this
is a very difficult time and, with years of experience behind us in such matters, we
aim to guide you through what are sometimes quite complicated procedures
efficiently.

It is impossible to give hard and fast time scales as to how long the administration of
an estate will take to conclude because each case differs from another. We will,
however, do our best at the outset to give you an estimate of the time it will take to
conclude the matter and if we subsequently have to revise that time estimate, we
shall advise you at that stage.


GRANT OF PROBATE OR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION

If the deceased died with a Will then the Executors must obtain a Grant of Probate to
the Will. If the deceased died intestate (i.e. without a will) then the next of kin (called
“the Administrator”) will have to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration. In either
case until such a Grant is obtained, none of the assets of the deceased’s estate can
be touched. The only exception is assets held jointly with another person. These will
automatically transfer into the name(s) of the other joint holder(s). In cases,
however, where an account was held in the sole name of the deceased, certain
Banks/Building Societies may be prepared to release money to pay the funeral
directors bill before a Grant is obtained.

Documentation we require

The first thing we need to do following the death is obtain the original Will (if we do
not already hold it) or if there is no Will to have details of the next of kin so that we
can build up a “family tree.” We shall advise you on who will be entitled to the estate
in cases where there is no Will.

We shall also need an original death certificate and details of all the assets
comprised in the estate as well as the passbooks, certificates or other documentation
which may have been issued in respect of those assets. If the estate includes an
interest in a house, we shall of course require the title deeds.

Valuations

We will need to obtain date of death valuations of each asset, including any personal
possessions, owned by the deceased and the contents of any house in which he or
she may have been living at the date of death. We also need to have a valuation of
any car or other moveable asset owned by the deceased.

If the deceased was entitled to a State pension or other State benefits, the person
registering the death with the Registrar will have been given a Certificate to enable
us to claim any outstanding pension/benefit from the Benefits Agency. We shall
require that Certificate and, if appropriate, the pension book, so that we can complete
the form and send it to the Benefits Agency.

We shall also require any paperwork relating to the deceased’s debts, such as
household utility bills, any bank loan or credit card bills, mail order catalogues. We
will also need any documentation relating to income tax.


NOTICE PERIODS

By law where the Executors are not the beneficiaries, the Executors should place
what are known as “statutory notices” in the London Gazette (an historical
publication) and in a newspaper which circulates in the area where the deceased
lived immediately prior to his or her death. No part of the estate can be distributed by
the Executors until at least 2 months from the date of theses advertisements.

In some cases we will not be able to administer the estate until at least 6 months
from the date of death. This will be the case if there is a potential claim under the
Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975.

In other cases there may be a potential claim to the estate to be taken into account.
This may arise, for example, where the Will is challenged on the basis of lack of
mental capacity of the deceased, or where it is alleged that the deceased signed a
Will by mistake, or the Will was otherwise invalidly executed, or where it is alleged
that the deceased was influenced to sign a Will in a particular way. We are afraid
that it is becoming rather more frequent now than in the past for Wills to be
challenged, so we would appreciate your forbearance if, due to circumstances
beyond our control, we have to advise you of a possible delay in the administration of
the estate.


APPLYING FOR A GRANT OF REPRESENTATION

Once we have ascertained the value of the estate at the date of death, we can
prepare the probate papers that need to be signed by the Executors/Administrators.
If they are local to our office then we will invite them to attend at our office so that we
can explain and supervise signature of the papers. If they are not geographically
local to us then we will post the papers to them with an explanatory letter. Once the
probate papers have been signed and returned to us, we make the application to the
Probate Registry.

It usually takes between 3 and 4 weeks for the Probate Registry to issue the Grant of
Representation (usually either a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of
Administration) to us. When we receive it, we can start to collect in the assets of the
estate. We will, if at all possible, invite the Executors/Administrators to sign the
withdrawal forms necessary to cash the assets before the Grant of Representation is
received, so that we can immediately proceed to collect in the assets when the Grant
is in our possession.

In some cases, of course, a beneficiary may require an asset to be transferred to him
or her rather than cashed and, subject to arrangements having been agreed for the
payment of debts of the estate and any legacies due under the Will, we are happy to
accommodate such requests.
When money is available to us, we shall pay the debts of the estate including (if not
already paid) the funeral directors bill.

Please note that, if the Executors need to sell a house as part of the administration of
the estate, exchange of contracts for the sale of that house cannot take place until
the Grant of Representation is available because, without it, the Executors cannot
give good title to the house. This does not, however, prevent the Executors from
putting the property on the market for sale, before the Grant of Representation has
been obtained.

Once the debts of the estate have been paid and assuming there is enough money
available to cover any future administration expenses, any legacies due under the
Will can then be paid. If further money is available and we anticipate the
administration of the estate may take some time to conclude, we are then generally
happy to make interim payments to beneficiaries who are entitled to the residue of
the estate.

During the course of the administration of the estate, we have to conclude any
income tax and related tax matters with the Inland Revenue.

When all administration matters have been concluded, any tax due from the estate
has been paid and all appropriate notice periods (as to which see above) have been
observed, we are able to conclude the administration of the estate. At that time we
will send full and detailed Estate Accounts to the Executors and all beneficiaries.
When all concerned have signed, dated and returned one copy of the Accounts to us
by way of approval, we will despatch the payments to the beneficiaries.


PROBATE COSTS

We calculate your costs strictly in accordance with Law Society guidelines. We are
entitled to charge on a “time spent” basis, i.e. per letter, telephone call, personal
attendance upon you, preparation or perusal time, travel time, etc.

In addition we are entitled to charge a percentage based on the value of the estate.
If we, as a firm of Solicitors, are the Executors of the deceased’s Will, or one of our
Partners is an Executor, the percentage charge is as follows:-

1½% of the deceased’s personal estate at the date of death (i.e. the total estate less
the value of any house or other real estate that the deceased owned at the date of
death) PLUS ¾% of any real estate.

Where we are not the Executors of the Will and no one of our Partners is an Executor
of the Will, but we are instructed to act for lay Executors, the percentage charge is as
follows:-

1% of the deceased’s personal estate at the date of death (i.e. the total estate less
the value of any house or other real estate that the deceased owned at the date of
death) PLUS ½% of any real estate

At the outset, we shall give you our best estimate of costs based on the information
we have at that time. Inevitably, in some cases, the value of assets as we believe
them to be when first instructed differs from the value that we find them out to be
when we make further enquiries. Indeed in some cases assets only come to light
after we have been instructed. In those cases, we shall need to revise our original
estimate of costs and we shall let you have that revised estimate as soon as
possible.

In these cases, we submit an interim bill at the time of making application for Grant of
Probate and that bill is payable as soon as sufficient assets are available. Only in
exceptional cases would we need to submit a bill prior to Grant of Probate. In most
cases, there would only be one interim bill, with the final bill following at the
conclusion of the matter. However if a matter becomes particularly protracted then
we do reserve the right to raise further interim bills at quarterly intervals after the first
interim bill is rendered.

If in doubt about the way in which we calculate our charges, at what stage they will
be paid or any other aspect arising in respect of our charges, please ask.


ANY QUESTIONS?

Please remember that we are here to assist you and if you have any questions, you
should not hesitate to ask. The intention of this fact sheet is obviously to make you
aware of most situations that arise in the administration of an estate, but it is difficult
to cover every possibility. Please therefore do not be afraid to seek clarification or
advice from us as necessary.

				
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