An executor, sometimes referred to as a trustee or a personal representative or PR has a duty to gather in the assets of the estate and distribute them or their proceeds of sale among the beneficiaries, according to the Will or intestacy. When carrying out the probate process an executor should take into account the wishes of the beneficiaries.
Points about the Grant of Probate process
1. It is essential to get all the information up front to avoid unnecessary delay, the sort of information you need to gather is available in our DIY Probate Guide add link.
2. With building societies, ask not only for capital balance at death but also interest accrued but not credited, which will be an asset for IHT purposes and an income tax liability for the estate.
3. Also confirm interest paid in the year before death and in the period to date of death, as the deceased’s income tax returns may not be up to date. This will help speed up the probate process at a later date.
4. Ask for tax deduction certificates for the deceased and, separately, for the executors from the date of death; notoriously hard to get since building societies and banks often seem unwilling to split a tax year.
5. Do not rush to pay Inheritance Tax early. Interest on unpaid tax does not run until six months after death. Although to get a Grant of Probate you will have had to pay the inheritance tax as part of the probate process.
6. Note also that for Council Tax purposes, no charge from death until grant of probate is obtained, with a free period for six months after.
7. To pay tax, for a grant of probate and Court fees, a building society will release deceased’s money. However, banks will lend typically at 4% over base and charge an arrangement fee of say £250, perhaps with set-off against the deceased’s credit balances.
8. Where there is land or houses in the estate obtain formal probate valuations and file these with the Inland Revenue account without waiting for the CTO to ask for them.
9. Formal valuations often worth getting with chattels where an, insured value of say £40,000 can result in a probate value of say £18,000. Itemise valuable chattels.
10. Where there is foreign property, it is sensible with the office copies of the grant of probate to ask for a Court certified and sealed copy of the Will on issuing the Grant of Probate for the foreign courts, its usually better to ensure (in advance!) that foreign Wills are made.
11. Consider deeds of variations as soon as possible and not necessarily right at the end of the two years.
12. Estate Administration cannot be wound up until deceased’s tax affairs are in order. It is sensible to put in executors’ accounts year by year. Check all Income Tax and CGT assessments, e.g. confirm that survivor is given correct age allowance and Widow’s Bereavement Allowance. This will complete the probate process.