PROBATE is the process of verifying the last Will of a deceased person. It includes locating and determining the value of the deceased’s assets, paying final bills and taxes and, finally, distributing the remainder of the Estate to any rightful beneficiaries.

Typically from beginning to end we would hope to have the Estate wrapped up, paid out and accounts completed in six months. This does, however, depend on the co-operation of Executor and the Probate Office! At the time of writing, the Probate Office has been a little slow but seems to be turning round Grants of Probate in about six to eight weeks at the moment.

The minimum Estate value that would attract any Inheritance Tax would be those above £325,000 in size. This is what is called the ‘Nil Rate Band’ (NRB) and every individual has one. In the case of a deceased whose spouse’s NRB was not used at the time of their death, the tax free sum doubles to £650,000. It is also increased if the deceased’s main residence is passed down in the Will to immediate family. This increases the NRB by a further £175,000. (this is called a Residence Nil Rate Band) and again, if the deceased’s spouse’s Residence Nil Rate Band was not used then that can be added on as well making a total possible tax free Estate of £1million. All the Estate above these values is taxed at 40%.

A WILL is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death, and names one or more persons, the Executor, to carry out these instructions and manage the Estate until distribution.

Back in the early 2000s, my parents sadly died. As the eldest son and Executor (and fully qualified accountant!), it fell to me to apply for Probate and administer the Estate on behalf of my four other siblings. At the time I looked around for professional advice from solicitors. Not only was I horrified by the costs, I was also surprised by their apparent lack of interest. After I had completed the Probate myself, I realised that even though we were an accountancy firm, we could do this job a lot better. As soon as the Probate market was opened up, I made plans to obtain the Probate licence. We run our accountancy business along the lines of speed, precision and proactive customer service. We have applied these same principles to our Probate business.

An ESTATE is the net worth of a person. It is the sum of a person’s assets – legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind – less all liabilities at that time.

An EXECUTOR is responsible for distributing the Estate of a person who has died in accordance with the terms of the deceased’s Will. He has a duty to any beneficiaries of the Estate to administer the Estate with due diligence and in accordance with the Will’s terms.

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