What can you expect from JT AccountS® when you engage us to handle probate?

Oct 13, 2023 | Articles, Certainty, Probate, The Material | 0 comments

All our contracts start with an informal chat with potential personal representative.

Following this chat if the decision is made to engage our services, a formal letter of engagement will be emailed; when signed we commence our due diligence. This can normally be completed in a week.

At this stage we need to request a deposit for the searches and overall contract.  Once paid, we can officially start work.

Stage One can take up to 6 weeks to complete. During this time, we will have a full consultation to collect information from the personal representative in relation to the estate of the deceased. Our consultation is relaxed and can take anywhere from 1-2 hours on average.

We will determine if the estate has a Will or is Intestate and assess if there is likely to be inheritance tax payable. If there is inheritance tax payable, we will advise you of the deadline for this, and apply for an Inheritance Tax reference number from HMRC.

In so far as possible we will gather supporting evidence of all accounts and assets identified, together with valuations and will commence completion of the relevant inheritance tax forms and supporting schedules. We will always need a copy of the original death certificate, Will and Codicils.

Stage Two can commence when stage one has completed. If there is inheritance tax to pay, the estate is complex and doesn’t qualify as an ‘excepted estate’ (which is basically very simple and without inheritance tax to pay) then we need to complete an inheritance tax form and schedules.

When inheritance tax is payable the inheritance forms are sent to HMRC for evaluation and the inheritance tax needs to be paid, or a payment arrangement agreed before we can apply for probate. It will depend on the estate composition as to which inheritance schedules can be used. If the full inheritance tax form is needed, even when there is no inheritance to pay the inheritance forms need to be sent to HMRC for evaluation and a waiting period of 20 working days (4 weeks) observed before we can apply for probate. Wherever possible HMCTS want us to use the online portal to make applications for probate.

When the estate is simpler, identified as excepted and the full inheritance form and schedules are not needed, we can proceed straight to an application for probate. Moving straight to stage three.

Stage Three can normally commence by the start of month 3, or within 90 days, earlier if we can skip stage two. At this stage if all the inheritance tax forms have been submitted and inheritance tax paid, or the estate has no inheritance tax to pay or qualifies as excepted, we can apply for probate. Once the application has been made, either online or by post we wait. The average processing time for the grant of probate by HMCTS is about 16 weeks (4 months). Although we have had grants of probate granted much quicker than this in simpler cases, we have equally had those that take longer. Since the covid pandemic processing practices have both improved and slowed, but in general the guidelines are being met or improved upon as time progresses.

Stage Four the grant of probate is received. At this stage we always advocate the placement of a section 27 notice.

Section 27 notice: a section 27 notice is an advertisement placed in the London Gazette and a paper local to where the deceased lived that states that the deceased has died, and the estate is about to be distributed. The purpose of this is to ensure that all creditors know that they need to come forward and make a claim before the estate funds have been handed out to the beneficiaries.

We always recommend a section 27 notice is placed as it protects the personal representative from what is unknown. Despite all the searches we conduct it is still possible for a creditor or beneficiary to an estate to remain unknown. By placing this notice and allowing the required waiting times before distributing the estate, a full two months from the date the notice is placed, will give the personal representative protection against late claims.

If it is established that there may be a potential claim by a beneficiary under the IPFDA 1975, the required waiting times are 6 months from the grant of probate, and an additional 4 months for late claims.

The current charge for this search is £450; a cost we will pass on to our client.

If upon receipt of the grant of probate the personal representative wishes to handle the estate distribution themselves, this will end our contract and the grant will be given to the personal representative on settlement of our invoice.

If we are also handling the estate distribution, we move to stage five.

Stage Five can take anything from a few weeks to a few months or years depending on the complexity of the estate. Longer, when an estate is intestate as it is vital to make sure all the beneficiaries have been correctly identified and contacted. Using JT AccountS® to assist with estate distribution can streamline processes for the personal representative. Depending on the value of the estate and complexity of the distribution, it may prove useful to have us do this.

We will set up a bank account, known as a client or executor account, in the name of the personal representative to collect any money owned by the deceased from bank accounts, savings and investments, and eventually from the sale of any personal property including the family home or other buildings. We will use the same account to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.

We will help the personal representative to formally identify the beneficiaries and collect and confirm their bank details prior to distribution. It is at this stage we might need to complete further checks surrounding bankruptcy and obtain a sign disclaimer.

We will discuss the contents of the Will with the personal representative and distribute the estate according to the Will, or to the laws of Intestacy.

We will provide a full account of everything entering and leaving the bank account, including our fees and keep the personal representative updated at all stages of the process, giving them what we hope is complete peace of mind.

That in a Nutshell, is it!

Need More Information, What is Probate?. READ MORE: Our Probate Services

About This Article:

Please get in contact if you have any questions, all of the JT AccountS® services are fully operations. 

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Practice Number: 21331

Jacqueline Tetley is licensed and regulated by AAT under licence number 5096.


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