In order to help clients navigate through the process of administrating an estate, we divide the process into two distinct stages. The first of these is the application for the grant of probate or letters of administration. This is the document that will allow you as the Executors or Administrators to access the assets in the deceased’s estate. The second stage involves the collection of the assets and their distribution to the beneficiaries either under the terms of the Will or under the intestacy rules.
Stage 1 – Up to and including the receipt of the Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry
The tasks we will carry out on your behalf will typically be as follows:
- meeting with you to discuss the probate process, review and interpret the Will (if there is one) to identify any trusts, contingent gifts or failed gifts and provide a plan of action. If there is no Will then we will assist in identifying who will inherit the estate under the intestacy rules.
- reviewing the deceased’s papers and ascertaining their relevance to the administration of the estate.
- notifying the various asset holders of the death and obtaining official probate valuations of the assets and liabilities at date of death. This is required for the inheritance tax account which will be submitted to HMRC when we report the estate.
- analysing any significant lifetime gifts that the deceased made in the seven years prior to their death and the tax implications of such gifts;
- notifying the authorities and other relevant third parties to obtain further valuations and income tax information. (There may be a separate charge by the institutions for providing official valuations);
- maintaining and collecting data for the purposes of completing the inheritance tax return;
- calculating the inheritance tax liability, if any, taking account of any allowances or exemptions;
- analysing whether any of the assets qualify for relief from inheritance tax;
- completing the inheritance tax return and supporting schedules and taking you through the form to ensure its accuracy;
- preparing the Statement of Truth and probate application and lodging the application for probate with the Probate Registry;
- placing statutory notices in local newspapers and the London Gazette to protect the estate against claims by unknown creditors;
- dealing with the deceased’s tax return for the tax year up to the date of death;
- notifying beneficiaries of their entitlement under the Will.
- all correspondence, advice and meetings required to keep you up to date.
Stage 2 – Collection and Distribution of the Estate’s assets
Once the grant of probate or the letters of administration has been obtained, this is used to collect the assets and distribute these to the beneficiaries of the Will or under the intestacy rules. The tasks involved for this stage include:
- physically collecting in of all the assets (for example: closing the bank accounts, bonds and investments, selling or transferring shareholdings and other assets as required) and holding cash in a segregated legal services client account;
- advising you of the tax and legal implications that relate to the transfer of any assets that you wish to keep in place;
- obtaining HMRC clearances and deal with reasonable queries raised by HMRC in respect of valuations, calculations and inheritance tax generally. Any additional work relating to disputes with HMRC over the valuations submitted may need to be agreed and our fee estimate adjusted accordingly
- preparing and filing the estate income tax returns for the period of administration (these are separate to the personal returns that may be required by HMRC for the deceased up until date of death).
- advising on the setting up of any trusts established by the Will and/;or requirements to terminate such trusts. Note that any legal work required for this would be agreed and charged separately from the estate administration.
- preparing estate accounts to provide a clear analysis of the estate assets and liabilities and the subsequent distributions to the beneficiaries of the estate to enable the executors to meet their legal obligations correctly;
- making the final payments out and moving the ownership of the assets from the estate to the residuary beneficiaries.
- advising executors of their ongoing role as executor of an estate and whether measures such as deeds of indemnity should be implemented to guard against potential claims against the estate.
This list is intended to give you an idea of the most common tasks involved in an estate administration. We will agree an outline for our engagement with you prior to commencing the legal and tax work required.