In our second instalment of our corporate transaction series, we look at the vital role that the due diligence process plays in making a success of any transaction. Having made the decision to acquire a business, the buyer will want to maximise the...
Probate is the legal authority that enables the Executor in a Will to deal with the deceased's affairs. Probate is always required for estates in excess of £20,000 and until grant of probate has been obtained you cannot sell or deal with any of the deceased's assets.
Applying for probate does not have to be done through a solicitor but it is usually quicker and does not involve a Court interview. It is also often helpful if an objective professional deals with the administration of the estate especially where there may be family disputes.
Often it is the person who is bereaved who is named as Executor and in those circumstances applying for probate at such a difficult time can be extremely stressful. Many people name a firm of solicitors as Executor and at Bakerlaw we are experts in dealing with estates and understand the processes and paperwork involved.
An Executor's responsibility is to take charge of all the assets of the deceased on behalf of the estate and those who benefit from that estate. The Executor is fully accountable to the beneficiaries for his actions and is held personally and financially liable should the estate suffer any loss. It can be seen that an Executor's role is an onerous one and we can provide the necessary guidance.
What immediate steps should I take following a death?
The first thing to do is to register the death and arrange the funeral. A Will may include the deceased's wishes regarding cremation or burial and so as soon as possible the Will should be located. In many cases the deceased's home is their major asset and it is important to ensure that any property, if empty, is made secure and the insurers are notified.
What if I can't find a Will or there is no Will?
If a Will cannot be found then the estate will be dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy which means the law will decide how your estate is distributed. If a Will does exist, Bakerlaw can help you to locate it by searching a national database and contacting solicitors in the area where the Will may have been made.
How long does it take to finalise the administration of a Probate matter?
It depends on the size and complexity of the estate. If the estate is liable for Inheritance Tax this can also extend the process as a full Inheritance Tax return needs to be completed and a Clearance Certificate obtained from HM Revenue & Customs before the estate can be distributed. On average the administration can take between 9 – 12 months to finalise.
What fees are involved?
An Executor incurs a number of expenses in his role including for example, death certificate fees, funeral account, Court fee for Grant of Probate, oath fees and professional fees. These can all be reclaimed from the Estate.
Our fees are dependent upon the complexity of the case and we are happy to discuss costs with you and give you an estimate before work is commenced.