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    Extracting Grant of Probate


    Whether the Deceased died leaving a Will (Testate) or did not make a Will (Intestate) it will generally be necessary to extract a Grant of Probate if the deceased had cash savings in excess of £5,000.

    If the deceased simply had a number of bank accounts/savings account with small amounts of money e.g. £500 then provided these are under £5,000 the Financial Institutions will generally release the money on production of a Death Certificate and Will.

    However, this will not apply generally for any amounts over £5,000. The deceased could die with no money in the bank/savings but with property in which case a Grant will be necessary in all circumstances so the property can be sold and/or transferred.

    If the deceased died Testate then the Executors will apply for a Probate Grant in the form of an Oath for Executors. If the deceased died Intestate then the Administrators will apply for a Grant in the form of Letters of Administration. Law firms and solicitors help inheritors of the deceased for probate advice and support.


    Asset Valuation

    In all cases, a valuation of all the deceased’s assets and liabilities is necessary and a full account must be provided to HMRC for Inheritance Tax.

    This is made on the forms that HMRC provide which are extremely detailed and include separate forms for shareholdings, pensions, property, savings etc. If property is involved it may be possible to apply to pay IHT in instalments. In certain cases HMRC may be persuaded to issue a certificate to enable a Grant to issue so that funds can be encashed and IHT subsequently paid.

    It has to be a very specific criteria for this provision to apply. In certain circumstances it may be possible to obtain various IHT reliefs and exemptions such as the Spouse Exemption whereby the estate of the last surviving spouse might be able to avail of the first spouse exemption or quick succession relief when the deaths happen within a short space of time.


    Sale/Transfer of Estate Property

    Often the largest assets of a deceased’s estate will be the property that they resided in at the date of their death.

    If there is a mortgage remaining it is important the lenders are notified immediately so that the account is not passed over to their re-possession department because obviously on death the deceased’s accounts will become frozen once the bank is notified.

    Most lenders are very understanding of the position although Judkins have noticed that some buy to let lenders appear to try and use the opportunity to their advantage by forcing a sale at the earliest opportunity. This can however be defended.

    It is however important to make known to the agent that it is a Probate sale.


    Remaining Insured

    It is also important to make sure the deceased’s property remains insured. This can sometimes cause problems as the property is empty so it is important to speak with the insurance company at an early stage.

    Once the Grant is obtained the property can be sold and/or transferred to the beneficiaries. There is no need to wait for Probate to market the property unless there is a dispute over Probate.

    The conveyancing probate process itself often takes 8 weeks before parties are in a position to exchange.

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