Dying Without a Will: Managing an Estate in Accordance with the Rules of Intestacy
Once an Executor or Administrator has obtained Probate the administration of the deceased person’s Estate can begin. Our lawyers are fully authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, are experts in probate and estate administration and will offer quality legal advice in respect of any probate services.
When someone dies, if the deceased has left a Will, the named executors will make an application to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation, known as a Grant of Probate.
However, if the deceased did not leave a Will, next of kin or relatives the executors will apply for a different Grant of Representation known as Letters of Administration and the Probate will may be referred to as an intestacy. The representatives dealing with the intestacy are known as administrators rather than executors.
What does Intestacy mean?
When someone dies without a will, what happens is that, in the eyes of the law, they are considered to have died interstate, meaning that an immediate family member – in accordance with the UK’s inheritance laws, this is usually a spouse or civil partner or, if a single parent dies without a will, the oldest child, as long as they’re over the age of 18 – will need to apply to be made an Administrator, giving them the ability to manage their deceased loved one’s estate.
At Eric Robinson, we have many years of experience navigating the UK’s inheritance laws including intestacy, rules of inheritance and settling any debts the deceased may have had at the time of their passing.
We know how hard it can be to lose a loved one, and how them dying without a will may only make the situation more stressful. Please know that we are here to assist you in every possible way through this difficult time.
Some of the other ways in which we can help reduce the burden on you and your family include:
Gaining access to the deceased person’s financial assets
An administrator will need to collect and liquidate all the deceased person’s financial assets, which will commonly be transferred to a dedicated estate bank account.
However, different asset holders, such as banks, may have different customer service rules when it comes to drawing down the funds previously belonging to the deceased.
We have experience dealing with nearly every financial institution in the UK and have a deep understanding of the bespoke steps each of them requires an administrator to follow.
Settling the deceased person’s debts and paying any taxes due
Money in a joint bank account automatically passes to the other owners. As a result, an administrator is still required to include this money as part of the estate when they work out their inheritance tax.
If the person who died owned a property or other assets along with another person (often known in legal terms as being a ‘joint tenancy’), ownership of the deceased person’s share passes automatically to the other owner. However, if the other owner is no more and they also haven’t provided a will naming their
beneficiaries, these properties or assets will be passed on in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.
It’s important to contact the mortgage company, check with HM Land Registry or get legal advice, if you’re unsure how a property is owned.
Our advice is to thoroughly investigate this because you may not be able to deal with the estate until everything is clarified.
Distribute the estate
Once all debts and taxes have been paid estate accounts will need to be prepared and approved then the estate can be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.
Why our legal experts are in a great position to help you navigate the rules of intestacy
Eric Robinson Solicitors is a law firm whose estate administration services are fully authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA. Dealing with the practical consequences of the death of a loved one or someone close to you is daunting however our team can sensitively deal with everything on your behalf.
We are experienced trust administrators, and we can advise clients on such matters as whether a residence nil rate band applies thereby ensuring you complete piece of mind.
What are our Estate administration costs?
The exact cost of our Estate Administration service will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and the level of assistance required. We offer a range of services from taking on full responsibility for administering an Estate to providing advice on a specific issue or dealing with a specific task.
Where we are instructed to manage and process an Estate Administration from start to finish, our charge is based on a fixed fee of 1.9% of the total gross value of the Estate. For example, if the Estate has a value of £350,000, our fee would be £6,650 plus VAT (£1,330). We offer an initial meeting charged at £200 plus VAT (£40) for up to an hour to discuss the Probate process and your requirements. This charge would be waived if we are instructed to act and our fixed fee above is charged.
This service would cover the following:
- Valuing the Estate and ascertaining date of death assets and liability values by contacting the third parties with whom the deceased dealt;
- Assisting and advising on any professional valuations for property, investments, chattels, works of art etc.
- Considering and applying all exemptions and reliefs for Inheritance Tax which may apply.
- Completing the relevant HM Revenue and Customs and Inheritance Tax forms.
- Preparing tax calculations and advising on the available options to pay the tax due and any interest implications.
- Liaising with the District Valuer.
- Preparing the relevant application form and Legal Statement for the Grant to be signed by the Executors.
- Submitting the application to a Probate Court and dealing with any queries raised.
- Obtaining the Grant of Probate, advising when it is issued and producing certified copies.
- Arranging payment of any further Inheritance Tax due;
- Paying debts (excluding mortgages).
- Finalising utility bills.
- Identification of items specifically gifted and transferring them into the name of the beneficiary (excluding legal transfer work);
- Paying cash gifts detailed in the Will and obtaining receipts for the Executors as proof of payment.
- Advising on the requirement of Section 27 Trustee Act Notices.
- Discussing with the Executors and beneficiaries the transfer or encashment of holdings in any investment and the Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax implications of such.
- Dealing with Assents of properties to trustees or to beneficiaries.
- Advising on Deeds of Appropriation (if required);
- Collecting all of the Estate assets, including closure of bank accounts.
- Undertaking bankruptcy searches for individual beneficiaries.
- Registering the Estate with HMRC via the Trust Registration Service.
- Preparing Income Tax returns for the Administration period.
- Preparing form R185E.
- Advising on and submitting Corrective Accounts and claims for loss on sale of property/shares.
- Preparing Estate Accounts as an ongoing process.
- Preparing Final Estate Accounts for Executor and beneficiary approval.
- Obtaining formal clearance from HMRC;
- Arranging final payments due to beneficiaries.
Disbursements to be added to this fee:
- Probate application fee of £273.
- Land Charges Registry bankruptcy searches (£2 per beneficiary).
- Approximately £82 to post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (not always applied for).
- Approximately £110 to post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims (not always applied for).
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure an efficient process.
Please note that our fixed fee applies to estates with a value of up to £2,000,000, where the deceased was UK domiciled, there are no foreign Wills or assets, and this firm is not acting as an Executor. Our fixed fee is subject to a minimum charge of £6,650 plus VAT (£1,330). For us to provide an accurate fee estimate in respect of the Estate, you would need to discuss the specific details with one of our specialists.
How long will this take?
- On average, our experience suggests that estates are concluded within 6 to 18 months.
- Obtaining information to apply for a Grant of Probate takes 8 to 20 weeks.
- The Grant of Probate application typically has a processing time of between 8 to 16 weeks from the point of submission to the Probate Registry.
- The process of collecting in assets and paying liabilities is entirely asset specific although most assets can typically be collected in circa 4 to 28 weeks.
- Once all assets have been collected and all liabilities paid, final Estate Accounts will be prepared, and once concluded and approved, arrangements will be made for the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. This final stage normally takes in the order of 4 to 8 weeks.
These timescales are on the basis that:
- There is a valid Will and appointment of Executors.
- There is no claim brought against the Estate.
- Where there is a property to sell it sells within an average time scale.
- The third parties with whom the deceased dealt, correspond within a reasonable timeframe.
Other fixed fees available
Sometimes Executors may wish to instruct us to only obtain a Grant of probate or a Grant of letters of Administration (where there is no Will). We are happy to accept such instructions on the assumption that no inheritance tax is payable. Where all relevant financial information is provided to us by the Personal Representatives, we will obtain the Grant for a fixed fee of £2,000 + VAT (£400). This fixed fee covers the following:
- An initial meeting to discuss details of the Estate.
- Consideration of all financial and other information provided.
- Preparation of the Return of Estate Information form (IHT205) (if required) for approval and signature (however, where the estate requires a full Inheritance Tax Account on form IHT400, which is far more complex, our fixed fee will be £3,500 + VAT (£700).
- Where form IHT400 is required, submitting this in advance of the probate application to HM Revenue and Customs.
- Preparing the application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
- Submitting the application to the Probate Registry,
- Providing the sealed copies of the Grant of Probate to the Personal Representatives.
No other work is included within this fixed fee, leaving you free to obtain all assets, pay all liabilities, settle all taxes due to HMRC and account to the beneficiaries entirely by yourself. Where you do require us to undertake additional work, it will be the subject of an entirely separate and bespoke quotation.
Disbursements with Grant only Fixed Fee Work, will comprise only the Probate application fee of £273 and the cost of any Office Copy Grants you may require at the rate of £1.50 per copy.
If you would like to involve our probate specialists in the administration of an Estate please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team.
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