The principles behind obtaining permission to manage the property, money, and possessions of a person who died are simple. But the administration itself may be more complicated depending on the value and nature of the assets, and the order or disorder the person left behind. We explain the process for applying for probate in England and Wales assuming the estate is straightforward. And what to do if you need a hoarder’s house clearance.
Applying for Probate in a Nut Shell: What Is It?
Obtaining probate permission is normally necessary, even if you are not a legally wise person. Here are a few principles to follow, to decide if you have to do it or not:
WHERE PROBATE MAY BE WAIVED
1… If the deceased jointly owned land, property, shares or money you may not have to apply, because these automatically pass to the owners of the surviving share
2… The same applies if the deceased only had had small savings or premium bonds, because the currency determines the asset value
WHERE PROBATE MAY BE MANDATORY
Any organization holding assets in trust – for example a bank or a mortgage company – has fiduciary duties when an asset owner dies. The only way to find out whether they consider applying for probate is indicated, is to ask them and then act accordingly.
Each of these organizations will require the original, official probate grant for their files. Order extra copies as circumstances dictate, plus a few just-in-case spares because ordering extra copies later could delay the process.
However, Not Everybody Can Apply for Probate
The process may appear complicated at this point, but it’s not really if you follow this logic:
DID THE DECEASED PERSON LEAVE A WILL?
If they did, then you need to lay your hands on the original, because nothing else meets the legal requirements. Most people are wise enough to tell a few relatives where to look. If not, good places to start include their home, their bank, their solicitor, and the London Probate Department.
A will must nominate an executor to carry out its instructions, for it to be legal in England and Wales. That person named to deal with the estate is therefore the only person legally entitled to apply for probate. If there is no legal will, then the person died intestate.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS NO WILL?
If the deceased person did not leave a will – or you cannot find the original – then someone has to apply for ‘letters of administration’ on behalf of the estate. These allow them to act as if they were the executor, and the process converges after that.
People legally allowed to apply for letters of administration include the following in priority order:
- The married partner or civil partner of the deceased, even if separated
- A child (including adopted children, but not step-children) of the deceased
- The deceased’s parent, followed by the deceased’s brother or sister
- The grandparent of the deceased, and then finally the deceased’s uncle or aunt
If none of the above relatives are available, or willing to involve themselves, then HM Government will appoint a responsible person.
APPLYING FOR PROBATE OR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
The process is relatively simple after that. However, you first have to estimate the value of the estate, and report it to HM Revenue & Customs. Then you can lodge your formal application in one of these three ways.
- Online, by completing an inheritance tax estate report at tax.service.gov.uk/inheritance-tax
- By post – if there is inheritance Tax to pay – by completing the inheritance tax account form IHT400
- By post – if there is no inheritance tax to pay – by completing the return of estate information form IHT205
What Happens After I Receive UK Government Permission?
What happens then very much depends on how the deceased person left their affairs. If you are fortunate, everything will be neat and tidy with a comprehensive list of assets. However, you have a roughly 5% chance of being saddled with a hoarder’s house clearance, concealing who know what assets in dark corners.
A HOARDER’S HOUSE, WHAT’S THAT?
Five out of every one hundred people in the UK have a compulsion to keep, even collect things other people would probably want to throw away. These hoarders, as society calls them may pile their junk up and keep it forever, because it has no real usable value.
How to Go About a Compulsive Hoarder’s House Clearance
The wise estate administrator knows they have to sift through the junk in case it conceals items with value. Avery Associates offers a probate hoarders house clearance service in case you’re interested. We are also one of the UK’s leading providers of estate probate services, and can provide you with a valuation certificate for the government.