On death all your assets are frozen. Whether or not you have a valid Will your executors, if you have one (or the next of kin or principal beneficiary should you die intestate) have to apply to the Probate Registry – for 'Grant of Probate'.
This document authorises the personal representative(s) of the deceased to administer the estate in accordance with the wishes as expressed in the Will or, if a valid Will cannot be found, through the Rules of Intestacy (as an administrator).
This document has to be obtained within six months of the date of death and is usually only granted when any inheritance tax due on the estate has been paid.
However, if a deceased's estate consists of assets, typically bank / building society / national savings accounts which total less than £5,000 then applying for probate can be avoided. However an account is still required by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs if the value of all property including jointly held assets exceeds the prevailing inheritance tax allowance (currently £325,000).
The role and responsibilities of an executor to a Will should not be underestimated by a lay person. When the time comes, it can be complicated, time consuming and carries considerable obligations, not the least being a legal liability. Executors can, of course, instruct a professional adviser such as InHeriTance Matters to undertake specific duties, even if they do not use that adviser to make the probate application.
It can happen that a Will has been made but the executors are not able or are unwilling to act. What can the next of kin / close family do, at what is probably a highly emotional and stressful time, to sort out the affairs of the person who has just died? Sometimes the principal beneficiary will step into the breach but, more likely than not, will require professional guidance which is where InHeriTance Matters can help.
Similarly, if a person has died without a valid Will, InHeriTance Matters is well placed to help the family sort out whatever needs to be done in order to comply with the Intestacy Rules.
What are the principal roles of an executor/administrator?
Locate the Will (executor)
Register the death
Gather the assets, keep them safe and insure as appropriate
Value the estate
Pay any inheritance tax due
Apply for and obtain grant of probate
Pay any creditors
Distribute the estate in accordance with the Will (or Intestacy Rules)
Prepare an income tax return to the date of death
Complete a final statement of account obtaining receipts as appropriate
Deal with any issues / problems / disputes that can arise