1. Obtaining the original last Will of the deceased.
2. Valuing the assets in the Estate including any jointly owned property. Valuing any debts and liabilities. Values must be specific to the date of death and they form the basis of an Inheritance Tax return that the Executors need to sign off.
3. For all Estates, preparing an Inheritance Tax return or account confirming the valuation of the Estate and the overall Inheritance Tax (IHT) payable. Tax is generally payable over £325,000 of net assets at a rate of 40% (but see separately our sections on Inheritance Tax for more information). Arranging for the payment of any tax before the next stage.
4. Once any IHT is paid, preparing an Oath or form for the Executors to sign to accompany the original last Will to send to the Probate Registry of the High Court.
5. Applying by post to the Probate Registry for a document called the ‘Grant of Probate’ (or called ‘Letters of Administration’ where there is no Will) which document is a ‘ticket’ for the Executors to then collect in Estate assets, sell or transfer property and to settle Estate liabilities. Without the Grant, the Executors have little power to collect in any assets as they do not have their legal authority.
6. Collecting in capital and cash assets, transferring or selling property, collecting in life policy entitlements, selling or transferring shares to beneficiaries.
7. Settling any Estate debts, costs and expenses.
8. Completing an Estate Income Tax return for the period up to the date of death (and for the period of administration if applicable).
9. Preparing a set of Estate accounts to confirm all assets received or transferred, all liabilities paid and to show the net sums or assets due to the beneficiaries.
10. IHT and care fees planning, including preparing of any Deed of Variation to protect the Estate passing to a spouse or beneficiary.
11. Distributing the final amounts and assets.