If a Grant of Probate is needed after a death, you must obtain this before you can start collecting in and selling the estate assets. For example, you will not be able to sell a property until you have the grant. We take a look at how to avoid delays in securing probate.

It can also take a substantial amount of time to manage the administration process once the grant has been received, and we outline some of our tips for ensuring that this is also dealt with promptly so that matters can be finalised and the beneficiaries paid.

Find the relevant paperwork

The first step is to find all of the relevant paperwork. This includes bank statements, share certificates, details of investments, credit card statements and other information relating to the deceased’s assets and liabilities. You need to notify each asset holder and creditor of the death and provide them with an official copy of the death certificate.

Identify and value assets 

You need to make a list of the deceased’s assets and ascertain their value. This includes valuable items such as cars, collectibles and furniture.

When writing to banks and investment companies to advise them of the death, ask them for a valuation of the deceased’s holding. For other assets such as property, you can check online sites for valuations or ask an estate agent or other professional to give you a probate figure.

Ask for professional help with the application

The next step is to calculate the value of the deceased’s estate. This will let you know whether inheritance tax is payable. If it is, this must be paid before you apply for a Grant of Probate.

It can be complicated to calculate inheritance tax and you may want to ask a probate solicitor to help. For example, some aspects of the tax are paid on a sliding scale and it is not always straightforward to work out the rate.

A probate solicitor will also be able to discuss ways of paying the inheritance tax, for example, filling in an HMRC form to request payment directly from the deceased’s bank account.

The are many forms to fill in to accompany the payment, one for each type of asset and liability, and your solicitor will also be able to do this on your behalf.

Once the payment has been made and forms submitted, they will then apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate.

By using a professional, you greatly reduce the risk of errors and omissions, which could delay the process.

Respond promptly to enquiries

Once you have the grant, you should send it straight out to all asset holders and ask them to close any accounts. During the administration period, responding immediately to enquiries can reduce the time take to wind up the estate.

Put aside enough time

Emotions are often running high after a death. If a family member is dealing with the estate administration, there is a risk that other family members may criticise the progress being made or feel that they are not being kept in the loop. They might also feel that the personal representative is not handling matters correctly or has not achieved the best price for an asset. By using a Probate Practitioner, everyone will understand that the process is being dealt with promptly and professionally and the scope for disagreements is generally reduced. 

6. A lay individual may not understand when it is important to place statutory advertisements 

Dealing with an estate administration can be very time consuming. It can be tempting to wait until you have a block of time available to deal with matters, but if you need to avoid delays, you will need to put time aside on a regular basis to keep matters moving forwards.

If you are concerned that you will not have enough time, you can ask a probate solicitor to take on the administration on your behalf. They will be able to reply straightaway to queries.

Chase regularly where necessary

It is worth diarising the stage you have reached with each asset holder and creditor and checking that they respond to you within a certain period of time. If not, chase them regularly to avoid just one or two organisations holding up the whole procedure.

While winding up an estate does always take time, avoiding delays will mean that you can prepare the final accounts and pay the beneficiaries within a reasonable timeframe.  

If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at rob@pembrokewillwriters.com