Atterbury Payne Solicitors

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6 things to do before applying for Probate

1. Obtain a death certificate

You will need a death certificate to prove death. It van be the full death certificate issued by the registrar of death or a interim certificate issued by the coroner, if a full certificate is not available.

2. Value the assets of the deceased

You will need a death certificate to prove death. It van be the full death certificate issued by the registrar of death or a interim certificate issued by the coroner, if a full certificate is not available.

3. obtain details of any outstanding bills or liabilities of the deceased

The values of the deceased’s liabilities are needed for the same reasons as the value of the assets, however, in estates where inheritance tax is payable the liabilities are considered a deduction from the asset values and reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable. The amounts can only relate to the values due prior to the persons death but Funeral expenses and reasonable costs for a wake and headstone can also be claimed as a deduction for inheritance tax purposes.

4. obtain details of any gifts made by the deceased during the seven years before the death

Gifts made by a person within 7 years of their death may fall in and be calculated as part of their taxable estate. This will depend on the amount and the nature of the gift. There are some notable exemptions such as the “small gifts” exemption and gifts “out of normal income” exemption in addition to the better known charitable gifts exemption. Because the rules relating to gifts can be complex it is always best to gather the information and take legal advice before completing the probate application.

5. obtain details of any pensions the deceased had and if any changes were made to the terms of the pensions within the 2 years before the death.

Some changes to pensions before death may need to be reported to HMRC on a death. The executors need to ensure that they comply with their duties in this regard and not asking the questions of a pension company is no excuse as the probate court and HMRC take the view that executors should make all relevant enquiries before applying for probate.

6. Obtain details of any trusts the deceased was involved with.

It is important to know the terms of any trusts that the deceased was a beneficiary of or the deceased made to benefit other people. The best thing to do is to obtain a copy of the trust document and the last set of accounts and tax return if accounts and tax returns were completed.

There are going to be many more things that you will need to do from the time of death but the 6 things mentioned above will ensure that the probate application can proceed quickly and easily.

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