Estate Administration And Probate

Estate administration is the process of dealing with a person’s legal and tax affairs after they’ve died. This means dealing with all their assets, paying debts, paying any inheritance tax and income tax and transferring inheritances to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Estate administration is required after every death whether or not there is a will. If there is no will then an estate is classed as ‘intestate’ and the assets are distributed in line with the rules of intestacy rather than the direction in a will. This usually means that the estate administration process is longer and more complicated.

Estate administration can often be referred to as probate, although probate is just one small element of the wider estate administration process. Not every estate will require probate but all estates will require estate administration.

What is probate?

Probate, or the grant of probate, is the legal document obtained when there is a will. It gives the executor(s) the legal right to deal with the estate of someone who has died. When there is no will, the administrator(s) will apply for letters of administration.

These documents are required and give authority for executors to deal with the estate, including finalising the financial and legal processes for property, personal possessions, bank accounts, building societies, shares and investments, and distributing assets to those who are due to inherit. The grant of probate is required in order for financial institutions to release funds.

Probate may not be required if the deceased had assets (such as property, money or shares) held in joint names. These assets will pass automatically to the surviving owner. Financial institutions and organisations can determine their own probate thresholds and probate may not be required to access the funds if the amount being accessed is below the threshold. It is worth contacting individual organisations to find out what their probate threshold is.

What is involved in the probate process?

Completing the probate application

In England and Wales, the probate application involves completing a PA1P form (if there is a will) or a PA1A form (if there is no will). These forms can be accessed via the gov.uk website. You will also need to submit an inheritance tax form to HMRC. In Scotland, you will need to submit a C1, along with other forms (C5, C5SE or IHT400) depending on the make-up of the estate.

Submitting the application to the probate registry

After you have completed the application, you will need to send all the details, including the death certificate, to the probate registry. Alternatively you can apply for probate online if you have the original will and death certificate and you have already reported the estate’s value. You will need to send your documents by post after you submit the online application.

Completing a statement of truth

The executor or administrator is required to make a promise that they have been truthful in their application. During the online or postal application, they will be required to complete a statement of truth.

Estate administration and Probate: What’s the difference?

Probate is just one part of the wider estate administration process. The grant of probate or letters of administration provide the executor or administrator with the legal right to carry out the estate administration, including dealing with property, money and personal possessions.

Estate administration is the process of dealing with all the assets and tasks following someone’s death.

*Please note: The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax advice and wills.

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