Probate Explained

The Probate process can usually be broken down into stages, involving the various legal, financial and tax processes that need to be undertaken.

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Michael Prendergast Michael Prendergast

Partner, Private Client Department

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    Probate Stage 1. Identifying all of the deceased’s assets (property, investments and possessions) and all of their liabilities (debts ranging from loans to utility bills), in order to determine the value of their estate.

    At the same time, verifying entitlement to the Estate under the terms of the deceased’s Will, or in accordance with Intestacy laws if they died without leaving a Will, and obtaining the necessary identification documents for those beneficiaries.

    Probate Stage 2. Paying Inheritance Tax, if any, due to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) where applicable, and submitting the correct Inheritance Tax return (required whether or not there is tax due), and applying to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation (usually a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration), being a document confirming the legal authority to administer the Estate.

    Probate Phase 3. After the Grant of Representation has been issued by the Probate Registry, liquidating (selling) the deceased’s assets, settling their liabilities, paying the final Estate administration expenses and accounting to HMRC for any further Inheritance Tax, any Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax due to or from the Estate. This can also involve claiming refunds of Inheritance Tax, if applicable.

    Probate Phase 4. Preparing Estate accounts documenting all payments into and out of the Estate, and showing the balance left for distribution to the beneficiaries. Sending the Estate accounts to the Personal Representatives (such as the Executor of the Will) for approval.

    Probate Phase 5. Providing there are no challenges to the Estate or other complicating factors preventing distribution at this stage, the final phase will involve transferring any assets that the beneficiaries wish to retain, and distributing the balance of the Estate funds.

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