Tenn Probate Solicitors UK are an established law firm covering the whole of England. With over 45 years of legal experience in many areas of law, with particular emphasis on wills, trusts, estate probate, estate planning and commercial law including small business corporations, partnerships and limited companies.
The word “probate” literally means to publish, that is to publish the Will of a decedent by filing it with the court. The court then has supervisory powers over the Personal Representative and the administration of the estate. The Personal Representative, sometimes called the executor, is the person, or trust company, named in the Will and is appointed by the court or by https://whatisprobate.uk/ to execute the provisions of the Will.
The Personal Representative is a fiduciary of the Estate and has many legal responsibilities, including gathering all assets of the Estate, paying all just legal debts of the decedent, and making distributions to beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the Will. Certain notices have to be given to potential creditors (even if no money is due them) and to beneficiaries. Being appointed Personal Representative is not so much an honour as it is a lot of hard work and possible liability.
The Personal Representative, upon being appointed by the court, is issued what is called “letters testamentary” where the decedent left a Will or “letters of administration” where the decedent did not leave a Will. This document is evidence of the Personal Representative’s authority and legal title over the assets of the estate, and is used to close bank accounts and investment accounts and to sell assets, such as an automobile, real estate, stocks and bonds, etc.
A UK inheritance tax return is required even though no tax may be payable. A federal estate tax return is required if the gross value of the estate exceeds the exemption equivalent although no tax may be due (such as where the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary). The State inheritance tax return is important because it is necessary in order to close an estate, and for beneficiaries to have clear title to inherited real estate. Unless and until the State grants a tax waiver or tax exemption, the state has a statutory lien on all real property of the decedent, even jointly owned property, and there will be a cloud on the title to the property until a waiver or exemption is granted. Where a spouse inherits the couple’s jointly owned residence, the spouse will have difficulty in selling the property in the future unless an inheritance tax return is filed.
Shortly following the Estate being admitted to probate, a “notice to creditors” is published in a local newspaper and gives anyone who has a claim four months within which to file their claims. If the Personal Representative has given the required statutory notice to a creditor and no claim is filed within the four-month period, then the claim is forever barred. If a creditor did not receive the required notice, then the creditor has a year from date of death to file a claim. When the Personal Representative receives tax clearance from the HMRC (and pays the UK Estate Tax if any is due), and if no claims are filed within one year from date of death, then the assets of the estate can be distributed to beneficiaries. Because of the claims period, if real property of the Estate is sold, the proceeds will often be held in an interest bearing escrow until the claims period has run because the buyer’s mortgage company will not release the money until that claims period is over.
The cost of probating an estate varies according to several factors: the size of the estate, the complexity of administration, whether litigation is involved, and the degree of cooperation among beneficiaries. Due to the nature of the fiduciary nature of the Personal Representative’s responsibilities and attendant liability, a large estate with complex matters, such as continuing the operation of a business, requires more legal work than others. If beneficiaries become contentious, costs can rise sharply.
Tenn Probate UK handles probate of estates on an hourly basis for work performed. Clients are encouraged to handle as much administrative duties on their own, without legal intervention so as to save on costs. However, our professional responsibility in performing services for a Personal Representative and representing an estate is not delegated. Every effort is made to assure that the estate is handled in a legal manner and in accordance with the decedent’s intentions.