When a client passes away, it is not an easy time for anyone involved. But it puts the financial adviser in a unique position to offer invaluable support to the family of the deceased.
For the person who has been named as the executor of an estate, it can be a taxing and confusing role.
It is not one to be taken lightly either. The executor is financially and legally responsible for administering the estate of a person who has died and can be held accountable for any mistakes made, such as distributing inheritance incorrectly or paying the wrong amount of inheritance tax (IHT).
- Executor manages the administration of the estate
- Adviser knowledge of IHT is very useful to client’s executor
- Advisers should be proactive by having client’s solicitor details
An understanding adviser can therefore make a real difference to executors after the death of a client, both by helping them during the probate and estate administration process and by advising beneficiaries on their newly inherited wealth and how this might impact their own financial situation.
The first port of call for an executor is typically applying for probate.
If a will has been left, the executor will have to apply for probate before they can legally deal with the estate of the person who has passed away.
If there is no will, the administrator(s) will apply for Letters of Administration.
So what is involved in the probate process?
- Completing the probate application.
In England and Wales, the probate application involves completing a PA1P form (if there is a will) or a PA1A form (if there is no will). These forms can be accessed via the gov.uk website.
Executors will also need to submit an IHT form to HMRC. In Scotland, they’ll need to submit a C1, along with other forms (C5, C5SE or IHT400) depending on the make-up of the estate.
- Submitting the application to the probate registry
All the details including the completed forms, the death certificate, the original will and three copies and the application fee (£155 if using a solicitor or £215 if paying directly to HM Courts & Tribunals Service) need to be sent to the probate registry.
Alternatively, an executor can apply for probate online if they have the original will and death certificate, and they have already reported the estate’s value.
The documents will need to be sent by post after submitting the online application.
- Completing a “statement of truth”
The executor or administrator is required to make a promise that they have been truthful in their application.
During the online or postal application, they will be required to complete a statement of truth.
It is also a good idea to contact individual organisations to find out what their probate threshold is.
Financial institutions and organisations can determine their own probate thresholds, and probate may not be required to access funds if the amount being accessed is below the probate threshold.
Estate administration is everything else involved in dealing with the estate after probate has been granted.
This ranges from notifying any banks and other financial providers, in pensions, mortgages, credit cards, etc.
Questions appear on the last page of this article.