The Probate Checklist

The responsibility of being an the executor or administrator of their estate can be overwhelming. The process of applying for probate and administering an estate can be complex and time-consuming, but having a probate checklist can help make the process more manageable. Here is a simple probate checklist for executors to follow.

Obtain the Death Certificate

The first step in the probate process is to obtain the death certificate. This document is necessary for many of the tasks involved in administering the estate, such as closing bank accounts and transferring assets. You can obtain a death certificate from the local registrar of births, deaths, and marriages.

You may want to read: What to do when someone dies

Locate the Will

The next step is to locate the deceased’s will. This document will outline their wishes for the distribution of their assets and the appointment of an executor. If the deceased did not leave a will, the estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. In this case, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the estate.

You may want to read Searching for a Will: Hints and Tips

Apply for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration

If the deceased left a will, the executor will need to apply for a grant of probate. This is a legal document that gives the executor the authority to administer the estate. The application process involves filling out forms and paying a fee. It is recommended to seek the assistance of a solicitor or probate specialist to ensure the application is completed correctly.

You may want to read: How to apply for probate.

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Gather the Relevant Documents

An essential aspect of probate is ensuring you have all the relevant paperwork associated with the deceased. To help in the process we details some of the information you will require to complete the probate process.

Finances

Where applicable, you will need details of the deceased person’s:

  • Bank accounts
  • Building Society accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Mortgage or loan accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Cash
  • Stocks and Shares
  • Other investments

You will need an approximate value of each of the assets and / or debts. If you are aware of accounts or suspect that that other accounts exist but are unable to locate the paperwork, you may want to request a consultation with a probate solicitor.

Income

You will need details of any income the deceased was receiving prior to their death, such as pensions, salary or benefits.

Property

You will need details of property owned by the deceased, along with their approximate value. You will also need to know on how the property / properties were owned, such as sole or joint ownership.

Possessions

Create a list of possessions held by the deceased, with an approximate value. This should include vehicles, jewellery, artwork or antiques, as well as other valuables, furniture and other personal possessions.

Beneficiaries

If a valid Will exists, the beneficiaries will be named in it. In the absence of a valid Will, the beneficiaries will be decided by the rules of intestacy.

If you are not sure who the beneficiaries are, or are unable to contact them, you may want to discuss this with a probate practitioner.

Notify Relevant Parties

The executor is responsible for notifying relevant parties of the death, including banks, utility companies, and government agencies. This will involve providing a copy of the death certificate and the grant of probate. It is also important to cancel any direct debits or standing orders and redirect mail to the executor’s address.

Gather and Value Assets

The executor must gather and value all assets of the estate, including property, investments, and personal belongings. This will involve obtaining valuations from professionals and obtaining any necessary insurance for the assets. It is important to keep detailed records of all assets and their values for tax purposes.

You may want to read: How to Value an Estate for Probate

Pay Debts and Taxes

Before distributing the estate to beneficiaries, the executor must pay any outstanding debts and taxes. This may include funeral expenses, outstanding bills, and inheritance tax. It is important to keep accurate records of all payments made and to seek professional advice if needed.

You may want to read: What happens to debt when you die and Probate and Inheritance Tax

Distribute the Estate

Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the executor can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. This may involve selling assets, transferring ownership, or distributing cash. It is important to keep detailed records of all distributions made.

By following this essential probate checklist, executors can ensure that the estate is administered efficiently and in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. If you are struggling with the probate process, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a solicitor or probate specialist. They can provide guidance and support to help you navigate this complex process.

Complicated Probate: Do any of the following apply?

In many cases it is perfectly possible to complete the probate process without professional support. In fact approximately 50% of probate applications are made by family and friends. However, if the estate is likely to be complicated it is highly advisable to seek the support of a professional. For example, if any of the following apply it’s a good idea to seek the services of a probate professional.

  • Are there doubts over the validity of the Will?
  • Did the deceased leave dependants who may have a claim for support but have been left out of the Will?
  • Does the estate include arrangements such as assets held in trust?
  • Is the estate insolvent, or are there doubts about the solvency of the estate?
  • Does the estate include foreign property?
  • Was the deceased domiciled outside the UK?

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