The person named in the Will as the Executor should deal with the property, money and possessions (known as the ‘estate’) of the deceased. If there was no valid Will, the person is said to have died ‘intestate’ and intestacy rules will apply.
The role of the Executor (there can be more than one) is to locate all assets, pay off any taxes, debts and funeral costs, and then distribute the remaining money, possessions and property in accordance with the instructions in the Will.
Unless the financial situation if the person who died is particularly complex, you should be perfectly capable of achieving this without needing to consult a solicitor, which helps to keep the costs down.
The key steps are:
Grant of Representation (‘probate’)
A ‘Grant of Representation’ is a legal document that establishes who is entitled to deal with the deceased’s estate. The most common type is Probate, which is issued to the executor(s) named in the Will. The other main type is Letters of Administration, issued when there is no Will or the names executors are not willing or able to carry out the task.
To apply, you need to complete form PA1 and IHT205 which you can obtain from the Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline (visit the gov.uk website) or the local probate registry (which you can find here). There is a cost (currently £215) for submitting this form and obtaining copies of the legal document (50p each).
You are required to swear an oath to state that information you provide in the application is true to the best of your knowledge and belief. This can be done at a Solicitor or District Probate Office (see list on form PA4 which you can download here).
For more information on this subject visit the Probate Records website.
An Executor Account is a bank account which allows the executor(s) to gather payments due to the deceased’s estate before being distributed to the beneficiaries, such as the proceeds from the sale of a house.
This type of account also allows payments to be made on behalf of the deceased, such as a payment for maintenance of a house belonging to the deceased’s estate.
To open an Executor Account, the applicant will need to have a Grant of Representation (England or Wales) or Confirmation (Scotland). Once you have this document, go to any bank to open the account.
Once you have settled all of the outstanding bills and funeral costs, you can then distribute the assets according to the Will and then close down the Executor Account.
Bear in mind that with larger estates, the beneficiaries may have to pay inheritance tax.
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