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Obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration

Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?

  • Obtaining the Grant of Probate if there is a Will or;
  • Letters of Administration if there is not a Will.

The process is, in theory, straightforward but there are pitfalls for the unwary:

i) Identify the assets you are dealing with;

ii) Report the value to HMRC;

iii) Swear an oath committing to properly administer the estate.

Identifying the assets

There is usually paperwork at the deceased’s home which may indicate any ongoing financial interests.  However, many people lose track of investments during their lifetime and we advise that an Asset Search is carried out.  This searches a large database of asset registers to compile a report of anything owned in the deceased’s name.  The cost is in the region of £150.

Reporting the estate

The next stage is to complete inheritance tax reporting forms to submit to HMRC.  The extent of this reporting depends on whether the estate will be a taxable estate or not.

The purpose of reporting to HMRC at this stage is to confirm that the existence of the estate has been notified prior to Probate being granted.  If the values reported turn out to be incorrect (for example, if a Deed of Variation is entered into or further assets are found) then the forms will require amendment.

HMRC will issue a summary tax overview, confirming the value reported.  This must be attached to the application for Probate.

Swearing the Oath

The Oath is a legally recognised statement which is usually drafted by a solicitor.  This is a statement by the person named as Executor confirming that they are accepting responsibility to deal with the estate, that the Will is, to the best of their knowledge, the final Will of the deceased and that they commit to act appropriately in calling in, settling and distributing the assets.

The Oath is sworn in front of a solicitor, and is the key part of the Probate application.  It is possible to instead attend a Probate Registry directly.

Typically it takes 6 – 8 weeks for Probate to be granted, once properly submitted.  At that point, the named Executor becomes legally entitled to deal with the estate.

If you would like to speak to a member of our Probate team today please contact us for supportive, expert advice.

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