Probate Property in the Digital Age: Managing Online Assets

Probate Property in the Digital Age

The advent of the digital age has profoundly transformed how we live, work, and manage our assets. With an increasing number of people holding valuable online assets, understanding how to handle these digital properties during the probate process has never been more crucial. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of managing probate property in the digital age, providing you with the essential information and guidance to navigate this complex terrain.

Understanding Digital Assets

Digital assets encompass a wide variety of online properties, ranging from social media accounts, emails, and digital photographs to cryptocurrency, domain names, and virtual goods. These assets can hold significant financial and sentimental value, making it imperative to address them appropriately during the probate process.

Probate Property in the Digital Age

Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone has passed away, involving the identification and valuation of the deceased’s assets, paying off any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the rightful beneficiaries. In the digital age, this process has become increasingly complex due to the virtual nature of many assets.

The first step in managing probate property in the digital age is identifying all the digital assets held by the deceased. This can be a challenging task, as many of these assets may be stored on various online platforms, protected by passwords and encryption. Executors and administrators must have access to this information to ensure that all assets are accounted for and properly managed.

Once the digital assets have been identified the next step is to value them. This can be particularly tricky for assets such as cryptocurrency, which can fluctuate in value significantly. Professional advice may be required to accurately assess the value of these assets and determine the best course of action for their management or distribution.

Accessing and Managing Digital Assets

Gaining access to digital assets can be one of the most challenging aspects of managing probate property in the digital age. Many online service providers have strict policies in place to protect user privacy, and accessing the deceased’s accounts may require providing proof of death and legal authority to act on their behalf.

It is crucial to be aware of the terms of service agreements for each online platform, as they may have specific provisions regarding the handling of accounts in the event of a user’s death. Some platforms may allow for the transfer of assets to beneficiaries, while others may require the closure of the account and deletion of its contents.

Digital assets may also be protected by intellectual property rights, and it is important to understand these rights and how they affect the distribution of assets. Executors and administrators should seek legal advice to navigate these complexities and ensure they fulfill their legal obligations.

Ensuring Legal Compliance

Managing probate property in the digital age requires a thorough understanding of the legal framework surrounding digital assets. In the UK, there is currently no specific legislation governing the handling of digital assets during probate, which can create uncertainty and complexity.

Executors and administrators must act in accordance with the law, ensuring they are fulfilling their fiduciary duties and distributing assets in line with the deceased’s wishes. This may involve seeking court approval for certain actions, such as accessing digital accounts or selling valuable online assets.

What Tech do I Need?

Embarking on the probate process in the digital era requires various technological tools to streamline and manage the proceedings effectively online. At the core, a reliable computer with internet access is indispensable to help you navigate through online platforms and resources with ease. Secure and robust software dedicated to probate management can play a pivotal role, helping to organise, track, and manage all necessary documentation and information throughout the process. This software often includes features for estate accounting, document generation, and task tracking, providing a comprehensive solution for executors and administrators.

What’s more, using cloud storage services ensures that all critical documents are securely backed up and accessible from anywhere, facilitating collaboration among legal professionals, executors, and beneficiaries. Digital communication tools such as email, video conferencing, and secure messaging platforms are also crucial, allowing for seamless communication and exchange of information without the need for physical meetings. To enhance security and protect sensitive information, investing in advanced cybersecurity measures, including encryption tools and secure password management, is vital. With the right technological tools and resources, managing probate online becomes a more efficient, secure, and accessible process, enabling executors and administrators to fulfill their responsibilities with confidence and precision.

Protecting Digital Legacy

As we navigate the digital age, it is becoming increasingly important to consider our digital legacy and how we wish our online assets to be handled after we pass away. Planning ahead and providing clear instructions for managing digital assets can significantly ease the probate process and ensure that our digital legacy is protected.

Individuals should consider creating a digital will, outlining their wishes for distributing online assets and providing essential information such as account details and passwords. This can provide invaluable guidance for executors and administrators, helping them to manage probate property in the digital age efficiently and following the deceased’s wishes.

The digital age has introduced a new dimension to the probate process, requiring executors and administrators to navigate the complex terrain of managing online assets. From identifying and valuing digital properties to ensuring legal compliance and protecting the digital legacy, there are numerous challenges to overcome.

Here to help

At Probates Online, we understand the complexities of managing probate property in the digital age, and our experienced team is here to guide you through every step of the process. Whether you need assistance in identifying and valuing digital assets, navigating legal frameworks, or ensuring the protection of the digital legacy, we are here to help.

Complete our contact form today, and we will aim to call you back within a few hours to discuss your needs and provide expert advice tailored to your unique situation. Alternatively, please call us on 01603 552028 or email us at Let us help you navigate the intricacies of probate property in the digital age, ensuring a smooth and efficient process for all involved.

Legal Aspects of Probate Property Sales in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide

Legal Aspects of Probate Property

Navigating the complex world of probate can be daunting, especially when it involves the sale of a deceased person’s property. However, understanding the legal aspects of probate property sales is crucial for executors, beneficiaries, and potential buyers. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the intricacies of these legal aspects of probate property to help you make informed decisions during this challenging process.

1. What is Probate Property?

Probate property refers to assets, particularly real estate, that belonged to a deceased person. Before assets can be distributed to heirs or sold, they may need to go through probate. This ensures that the deceased’s debts and taxes are paid, and assets are distributed according to the deceased’s will or, in the absence of a will, the law.

One of the primary legal aspects of probate property is obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (if there’s no will). This document, issued by the Probate Registry, authorises the executors or administrators to manage the deceased’s estate, which includes selling property.

When a property is part of the probate process:

  • Valuation: Before any sale, the property must be accurately valued. This valuation becomes part of the Inheritance Tax assessment.
  • Tax Implications: Once the property is valued, any Inheritance Tax owed must be calculated and paid. The amount depends on the overall value of the estate and any available reliefs or exemptions.

3. Selling Probate Property

With the correct permissions in place, the executor or administrator can proceed with the sale:

  • Market Listing: As with any other property, probate properties can be listed on the open market. They can be sold through estate agents or auctioned, depending on what is deemed most suitable for the estate.
  • Contracts and Exchange: Once a buyer is found, and a price agreed upon, a contract is drafted. The exchange of contracts signifies a legally binding agreement between the seller and buyer. At this point, the buyer pays a deposit, and a completion date is set.
  • Completion: On the completion date, the balance of the purchase price is paid, and the property’s ownership is transferred to the buyer. The proceeds from the sale will go into the estate and used to settle debts, pay any taxes, and finally, distribute to the beneficiaries.

The unique nature of probate sales means there are some distinct legal aspects to consider:

  • Potential Delays: The probate process can be lengthy, which can impact the timeframe for selling the property. Potential buyers must be aware that the legal aspects of probate property sales often cause delays compared to standard property transactions.
  • Transparency Requirement: Executors and administrators have a legal duty to get the best price for the property. This ensures that beneficiaries receive the maximum inheritance. Regular property valuations and transparent sale processes are essential.
  • Property Maintenance: Until the property is sold the executor or administrator is responsible for ensuring it’s well-maintained and insured. This ensures that its value doesn’t diminish, affecting the overall value of the estate.

5. Potential Challenges

Navigating the legal aspects of probate property can be challenging. Some potential hurdles include:

  • Disputes: Beneficiaries might disagree with how the property is being managed or the sale price. Clear communication and transparency are crucial to avoid disputes, or to resolve them if they arise.
  • Property Condition: Often, probate properties may have been unoccupied for a long time, leading to maintenance issues. Executors should ensure they are addressed to achieve a good sale price.
  • Market Fluctuations: The probate process can take time, during which property market conditions might change. Executors must remain aware of the market trends to make informed selling decisions.

6. Conclusion

The sale of a property in probate requires careful navigation of its unique legal landscape. While the fundamentals of selling remain similar to any property sale, the legal aspects of probate property sales bring about specific responsibilities and potential challenges for executors and administrators.

Whether you’re an executor, a beneficiary, or a potential buyer, understanding the legal aspects of probate property is crucial. It ensures that the process is handled correctly, ethically, and in the best interests of all parties involved. By arming yourself with the correct information, you can approach probate property sales with confidence and clarity.

Here to help

Navigating probate can be complex, but we’re here to help. Complete our contact form, and we’ll aim to call you back within a few hours. Alternatively, reach out directly on 01603 552028 or email us at Don’t navigate this journey alone; let our experts guide you.

Digital Assets and Probate: Managing Online Accounts and Data

Digital Assets and Probate

When somebody passes away, there are many different things which need to be done before their estate can be properly distributed to the necessary people. One of these is to apply for probate. This article is going to talk a bit more about what probate is, the probate application process and how digital assets work when passed on in a will.

What Is Probate?

Throughout England and Wales, probate is the word which is usually used in order to describe the legal and financial process which is involved when dealing with a deceased person’s assets such as property, money and possessions. The probate process means proving that a Will is valid and also confirming that the person in question has the necessary authority in order to administer the estate of the deceased. Before anyone is able to transfer, sell or distribute any of the assets which are contained within the will, they will need to apply for a grant of probate.

What is a Grant of Probate?

So, what is a grant of probate? A grant of probate is a legal document which is needed so that the executor is able to access the various assets which make up the deceased’s estate, as well as clear debts that the deceased might have owed before passing away. It’s worth noting that the document will only ever be called a grant of probate if the deceased has a valid will in place, if not then it will be called a grant of letter of administration. Both of these documents work in the same way, simply giving legal authority so that the executor is able to deal with the estate of the individual who has passed away.

Digital Assets in a Will

When putting together a Will, people tend to think about physical assets such as their house and possessions; however, as a society, we have a lot more digital assets as well so these need to be factored into the Will. These can include the likes of eBooks, online photo albums and loyalty points. People are also purchasing parts of the internet now with the likes of crypto and NFTs becoming popular. So, how can these be factored into a Will?

What Are Digital Assets?

If you are going to include digital assets within your Will then it is important that you fully understand what digital assets are. They are anything that can be stored digitally and that comes with a right to use. Some of these assets can have sentimental value like an email address, social media account or cloud storage. There could also be digital assets that have monetary value such as cryptocurrency and online accounts like PayPal.

Not All Digital Assets Can Be Passed On

It is worth noting that not every digital asset you have access to you will be able to pass on as you might not actually own it. A lot of digital assets like social media accounts and streaming services aren’t owned by you, they are owned by the company that provides the service and then you just licence it. Many people believe they can just leave their login details to their executors but this will be a breach of the terms of passing the account details to another party. The same applies to the pin number which is attached to your debit card.

People should check the terms of the business they licence with in order to better understand what they can include in their will and what might happen upon their death. Some digital assets that you are more than likely going to be able to pass on are things which you have purchased, downloaded and which are stored digitally, this includes the likes of films, music collections and TV shows.

Passing On Digital Assets

So, what are some of the best ways that you can effectively pass on a digital asset? It depends on what you are trying to pass on, one of the most common are assets which have monetary value. These include the likes of:

  • Cryptocurrency

Given this is a monetary asset, it’s easy to simply include it in your Will. That being said, you should make sure that the right steps are in place so that they can be accessed, and this is where leaving instructions in your Will can get a little bit complicated. In order to access crypto, you need to have access to the private key, but this can’t be shared with anyone, including anyone in your Will, for security reasons. A good idea could be to leave step-by-step instructions for a safety deposit box.

  • PayPal

It’s possible for you to get money from a PayPal account after the owner of the account has died. PayPal will take instructions from the executor of the estate, so a grant of probate will be needed in order to prove that the executor has the ability to act on behalf of the deceased. Once that has been proven, PayPal is able to send a cheque in the name of the deceased account holder, alternatively, they could transfer it back to the bank account which is linked to the PayPal account.

  • Loyalty Points

Passing on loyalty points varies depending on what company they are for. The Tesco Clubcard and Nectar points can be transferred quite easily but then there are other schemes where it’s harder to get in touch with the company, or the company will simply not allow the points to be transferred.

Do You Need Help with Probate?

Navigating probate can be quite tricky and as such, if you need assistance with the best way to proceed then you should be sure to contact experts such as Probate Online. Our team of experts will be able to discuss your current situation and provide advice on the most effective way that you can move forward. If you have any questions then do not hesitate to get in touch.

Key Differences Between Probate Sales and Traditional Real Estate Transactions

Probate Sales

It might seem like traditional real estate and probate real estate transactions are similar on the surface, but there are actually crucial differences between the two that you need to be aware of, regardless of whether you are a homebuyer, a seller or an investor. If you reach out to experts who work within real estate, you will be able to develop your knowledge of these differences and as such, navigate the complexities attached to probate properties, helping you make an informed decision surrounding whether you would like to move forward with your purchase. This article is going to talk in more detail about some of the key differences you will find between Probate real estate and traditional real estate, helping you shed light on the unique aspects of both processes and allowing you to better understand how these differences will impact both investors, buyers and sellers.

The Probate Process and the Impact It Has on Real Estate

A probate property refers to a property which forms a part of the probate process. This process is where the assets of a deceased person, which include real estate, are valued and distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries. The probate process can be complex as it involves proving the will is valid, settling any outstanding liabilities and debts that were owed by the deceased and transferring property ownership as well. Contrast this with traditional real estate transactions, which don’t involve the probate process, these usually follow a much more straightforward path from seller to buyer.

Inheritance and Ownership

In probate real estate, property ownership is initially transferred from the estate of the deceased person to their heirs or beneficiaries. Alternatively, they could be sold to a potential buyer, which is established by both will and state laws. Probate requirements need to be satisfied before the transfer of ownership can occur. Alternatively, in traditional real estate, ownership is usually transferred directly from the seller, straight to the buyer through a purchase agreement, without any kind of need for Probate proceedings.

The Condition of the Property and Disclosures

Naturally, before you invest in a property, you are going to want to be thinking about the condition of said property. When it comes to purchasing a probate property, though some inspections might still be carried out before the sale, they are still more than likely going to be sold “as-is”, without any repairs being carried out. Not to mention, because of the nature of the probate process, the executor or the heirs might only have very limited knowledge about the condition of the property, which means there are different disclosures to real estate agents made. This is different to the traditional process, where transactions usually require in-depth inspections, seller disclosures and also well carried out negotiations based entirely on the condition of the property.

Delays and Timelines

When it comes to probate real estate transactions, they can take a lot longer to complete than traditional real estate transactions, given probate deals are affected depending on whether the executor or the administrator has the authority to deal with the property of the deceased. On top of that, the probate process as a whole can introduce a number of different delays, which include the likes of court proceedings and the need to get proper approvals. This is why it is important to work with probate experts who are going to be able to cut down on these specific delays. On the other hand, if you work through a traditional real estate transaction, these tend to follow a much more set and streamlined timeline, which means that closings can happen a lot quicker.

Financing and Considering Various Offers

Financing is different when it comes to traditional real estate and probate real estate. When you are dealing with probate properties, you might require special financing or cash offers because of the unique nature of the challenges that people face when they are dealing with such a property. When you are dealing with traditional real estate, buyers have a much wider range of financing options that they are able to take advantage of and as such, it means that a lot of people tend to go down a traditional route.

Why Go for a Probate Property?

As you can see from the above, purchasing a probate property can be a complicated and elongated process, especially when compared to traditional practices, so why would people go for it? The first and most significant reason is the price. A lot of the time, when it comes to probate properties, those who are selling them are hoping to sell them quickly as they form part of the estate which they are interested in turning into cash as soon as they can. As such, people are happy to take discounts on the offers in order to flip the property as soon as possible. This means they are an excellent option when it comes to people looking for properties that they are able to invest in for a small amount of money and get a larger return on investment.

Some of the other benefits come in the fact that properties are ready to move into. A lot of the time, when people are selling a property which forms part of an estate, the property has previously been lived in, meaning there is not a huge adjustment when people are also moving into the property. There are other benefits as well, all of which mean that though the process can be complex, these properties are still sought after.

Do You Need Help with a Probate Property?

If you are interested in investing in a probate property but you are worried about the process then you should be sure to work with professionals such as Probate Online. Our team will sit down with you to better understand your current situation and advise you on the best way forward. If you have any questions or require any further information then do not hesitate to get in touch.

Do I need a Property Valuation for Probate?

Property Valuation for Probate

When somebody passes away, the executor is responsible for obtaining what is known as a “grant of representation”, otherwise known as “probate.” This is necessary because by obtaining this, the executor is proving that they have the legal right to deal with the deceased’s estate. To get probate, the entire estate of the deceased needs to be valued, which means working out how much they have in their bank, what their possessions are worth and also getting their property valued. This has to be done even if the Will’s beneficiaries do not intend to sell the property.

The Definition of ‘House Value’

For the purposes of probate, the house’s value is defined as what it would be worth on the open market. Essentially, on the date of transfer, whatever a reasonable buyer is likely to pay for the property will be considered the house value. If there are any peculiarities, these need to be ignored. For instance, imagine there is a buyer who is desperate to live on the street and, as such, is willing to pay well over the asking price; whilst this could happen in theory, it cannot be taken into account when valuing the property. The transfer will be considered the day the deceased died; however, if they have given the property away within the past seven years, the transfer date will instead be the day that the gift was made.

Who is Responsible for Getting the Property Valued?

When it comes to working out the value of a property, it is the responsibility of the deceased’s representatives (i.e. their executors and administrators) to see to this. They will need to ensure that the value they assign to the property is accurate for probate purposes because the value of the property (and subsequently the value of the estate) will all contribute to the inheritance tax the beneficiaries must pay. These representatives will need to get a valuation for everything else that makes up the deceased’s estate, which includes vehicles, furniture, personal belongings and financial assets.

How Can You Get a Straightforward Valuation?

If the property is standard construction and in an area where there are a lot of similar properties, then working out the value is relatively easy. HM Revenue and Customs would advise you to check the prices advertised by local estate agents for houses and flats of a similar size in the surrounding area. Good websites that you can have a look at include Rightmove and Zoopla, which can provide details about recent sale prices and, as such, point you in the right direction.

Another option is to ask different estate agents to help you value the property. If you do this, you will want to get an average figure rather than just going on one estate agent’s word. This means getting about three different estate agents to provide you with a value, adding all those values together and dividing them by three. This will give you a reliable average figure that you can use to assign value to the property.

The Problem with Some Estate Agents

It is worth noting that a lot of estate agents will give you a suggested asking price. This is not a market price, which is fair, but one that they would sell at. When you think about selling a house, negotiations are always involved, which means that estate agents list properties high, allowing themselves wiggle room to go down in negotiations. If you were to use these figures you would get an inflated probation value, meaning the beneficiaries of the Will could become liable to pay more inheritance tax than was necessary. If you are looking to avoid this, ask the agent to provide the price they would expect the property to sell at, not the price at which they would list the property.

Should You Get a Surveyor’s Valuation?

You don’t always need to get a surveyor’s valuation.  However, if the property is of non-standard construction, the only one of its type, or difficult to assign a value given no houses have been sold in that area for a while, a surveyor’s valuation could be helpful. They will visit the property to consider the area, the property itself, and its potential and will then be able to provide a reasonable valuation.

If the property needs work done or has a large plot of land, you will also need to get a surveyor’s opinion. When you submit the value of the property (and the entire estate) to HMRC, they will be much more comfortable accepting the figures proposed by a professional.

Do You Need Help Obtaining Probate?

If you have been left in charge of somebody’s Will before you can begin paying off liabilities or ensuring assets are given to the correct beneficiaries, you must obtain probate. In doing this, you must have a fair value of the deceased’s estate. This means you have to know what their belongings are worth and all their other assets.

If you need assistance with any of this, you should reach out to Probates Online. Our team of experts will be able to help you assign value to the deceased’s estate, as well as obtain probate for the distribution of the estate. If you have any questions or would like any further information on what Probates Online can do for your business, then do not hesitate to get in touch.

Probate Application Progress and Tracking Progress Explained in the United Kingdom

Probate Application Progress

In the UK, if a deceased person’s estate is in excess of £5,000, which it usually is if there is a property to be included in the value of the estate, the executors will have to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to manage the estate, settle any tax due with HMRC, value and sell the assets, and distribute the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes in their will.

The majority of probate applications are now made online via MyHMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service), particularly since the pandemic. Since it was established in 2018, over 30,000 probate applications have been made via the MyHMCTS service. But how do you monitor probate application progress?

Applying for probate

If the deceased left a will, the executors apply for probate. Executors can be family members, trusted friends or solicitors, but they shouldn’t be beneficiaries.  If there is more than one executor, the application for probate online should include all of the executor’s names. We should just point out that only the executors are allowed to apply for a Grant of Probate.

If the deceased did not leave a will, the next of kin, a close relative, or a solicitor must apply to the court for authority to administer the deceased’s estate. When they apply, they are requesting Letters of Administration that give them the authority to deal with probate. They are also known as the Administrator when managing the estate.

There are other circumstances where Letters of Administration are required, including:

  • You have been left the entire estate;
  • There are no executors named in the will;
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role.

What do I need to apply for probate?

To apply for probate online, you should have the following information to hand:

  • The deceased’s original will, including any codicils (small additions to the will).  It is recommended you have at least two copies of the will and codicils. 
  • The death certificate or an interim certificate.
  • HMRC’s Inheritance Tax form (IHT205) duly completed, even if Inheritance Tax is not due.

You will need these physical documents as you will be required to send them to The Probate Registry once you have completed the online application.

If no Inheritance Tax is due, you will need to complete a different Inheritance Tax form,  IHT205. You will also need this form if:

  • The value of the deceased’s estate is £325,000 or less (known as an Excepted Estate).
  • The value of the estate is less than the Excepted Estate joint limit of £650,000.  However, there has to be a claim to transfer the entire nil band rate from a wife, husband or civil partner that died first, and their allowance wasn’t used.
  • The estate’s value is less than £1 million, but no Inheritance Tax is due as the estate is being passed on to a surviving wife, husband or civil partner, or it is a charity exemption.

Tracking probate application progress

As well as applying for probate, MyHMCTS’ online probate service allows executors, administrators and solicitors to view their probate application progress and the forms they have via a dashboard. They are also able to monitor their probate application progress.  According to HMCTS, the only documentation that needs to be sent to them is the original will, a copy of the death certificate and the completed Inheritance Tax forms.

To use MyHMCTS’s online probate service, you will need to open a Pay By Account (PBA) account. This links directly with MyHMCTS’s fee account system, where you are able to pay for your online probate application.  Once registered as an executor or as an Administrator, you will be able to start and track your online probate application.

Once you have completed your online probate application and digitally signed the declaration at the end of the application, print off the declaration as you will need to enclose this with the documents you send to The Probate Registry.

Always make sure you keep a copy of each of the documents you are sending to The Probate Service and despatch using Royal Mail’s recorded delivery service. If you are sending a notarial copy or a court-sealed copy of the will, you will need to send a cover letter as well that details where the original will is being kept and the reason why it is not being released.

MyHMCTS keeps your probate record up-to-date with progress and will detail each step as it is completed so that you can track it. Once probate has been granted, it is a good idea to buy a copy of the Grant of Probate (if you didn’t make that request when you applied).

The Grant of Probate will contain information that is crucial to the handling of the deceased’s estate, including:

  • The date of death – this is related to the timings of administering the deceased’s estate.
  • Whether the deceased lived in the UK or not – for any claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975), the deceased must have been domiciled in England or Wales.
  • Whether there is a will or the deceased died intestate (without a will).
  • The names of the executors/administrators who are acting as defendants to any claim on a will or estate being contested.
  • The net value of the deceased’s estate.
  • The date probate was granted. Any claims under the above Act must be made within six months of the date probate is granted.

Having the date probate was granted will also give family and/or beneficiaries an idea of how long before they are likely to receive their inheritance.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

How to Find a Good Estate Planning Lawyer in the United Kingdom

Good Estate Planning Lawyer

As a loved one, family member or executor of a will, it’s never easy to manage the estate of a deceased person, particularly if you’re not familiar with all the legal terminology. If the estate (the deceased’s assets and possessions) is complex or large, it can be even more complicated.

In these situations, making use of a complete estate service relieves the burden and provides all the help you may need. Whether a Grant of Probate has already been obtained or not, when you use an estate service, you remain the executor, but the estate is administered on your behalf.

What is an estate?

An estate is everything you own; this includes cash in the bank, pensions and life assurance, investments and insurance policies, your property, jewellery, cars, furniture and ornaments, even down to your prized set of golf clubs.

Therefore, everyone has an estate, even if they think they don’t. If you own it, it is part of your estate, and with the help of a good estate planning lawyer, you can make sure your estate is managed according to your wishes.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is a clear and detailed plan on exactly how you would like your estate managed when you die. It also sets out your funeral arrangements and how you would like to be looked after during your lifetime if you are incapacitated, whether that’s temporary or not. This is done through the use of a Power of Attorney within your estate plan.

Although having a will is a good step towards estate planning, it does not cover various other aspects of your estate. The problem is that a will is only suitable after your death; an estate plan ensures your wishes are upheld during your lifetime, too. A good estate planning lawyer will be able to make sure that you have covered everything you need to consider in your estate plan.

For example, you may want to exclude someone or some people from your will, and an estate plan will make sure that what you want is followed. There is also less of a chance of your will being challenged after you die.

Planning your estate also means that should you need long-term care during your lifetime, your wishes on your care, as well as your financial affairs, are carried out according to your instructions. Estate planning includes:

  • Lasting Power of Attorney – there are various types of lasting Power of Attorney, including a living will. They make sure your wishes are followed (even if it is a temporary hospital stay) and set out decisions for your ongoing health and welfare.
  • Children/family welfare – you can make sure that your children if under the age of 18 years are looked after by a named guardian and ensure provisions have been made for their care and financial matters. You can ensure that any members of your family that need long-term special needs care are looked after in the way you want.
  • Managing a business – if you run a business, you can set out a planned exit from the business for you and your family, if necessary.
  • Tax implications – an estate plan also helps to ensure your family and/or beneficiaries don’t pay any more inheritance tax than they need to. In some cases, you may also be able to ensure that other related costs are kept to a minimum, too.

What does a good estate planning lawyer offer?

A good estate planning lawyer will offer a service that goes beyond just handling the paperwork. It covers:

  • Confirming the eligibility of executors and applying for a Grant of Probate (if required).
  • Reviewing the validity of the will and other related documents, like an estate plan.
  • Considering applicable inheritance tax relief options relevant to the estate.
  • Assessing the nature, extent and value of the estate’s assets and liabilities for inheritance tax purposes.
  • Liaising with HMRC over the valuations of the estate’s assets and/or liabilities.
  • Collecting the estate’s assets, closing accounts and discharging any estate liabilities.
  • Liaising with asset holders on your behalf.
  • Arranging insurance for any property that needs to be safeguarded during the administration period.
  • Liaising with the Department for Works & Pensions regarding any liability arising from overpaid benefits or the ineligibility of benefits due to an oversight in providing full disclosure of capital or income.
  • Liaising with charities and their designated offices on your behalf (if required).
  • Discussing the basis of calculation of any past, current or future liability for inheritance tax, capital gains tax, income tax or any other taxes following an application for probate with HMRC.
  • Arranging for any statutory notices to be published in The Gazette and local newspapers, if required, to stop any challenges to the estate.
  • Arranging for the final distribution of the estate to named beneficiaries.
  • Preparing the final estate accounts covering the period of estate administration.
  • Stopping any unwanted mail addressed to the deceased and safeguarding against identity theft.

A good estate planning lawyer will work with you throughout the administration process and is always available with support and advice.

Benefits of using a good estate planning lawyer

There are a variety of benefits to using an estate planning lawyer, including:

  • Help shoulder the burden of managing a deceased’s estate.
  • Specialist probate solicitors who understand the administration process thoroughly.
  • Legal professionals who understand the legal jargon used in documentation.
  • Liaising with HMRC, insurance companies, pension providers and other representatives in settling any liabilities attributed to the estate. This includes closing any relevant accounts and obtaining life insurance funds on your behalf.
  • Understanding the different tax liabilities that an estate incurs, including any potential tax reliefs that can be applied to reduce the tax burden.
  • Completing and filing all the necessary documentation on your behalf, including applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, if no will has been left by the deceased.
  • Ensuring all relevant tax exemptions and reliefs have been applied, that HMRC’s tax calculations are accurate and ensuring payment deadlines are met.
  • Collecting all the estate’s assets, obtaining valuations (if necessary), and distributing the assets in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. If no will has been left, they will organise equal distribution between family members.
  • Preparing and submitting final estate accounts that detail all estate transactions/payments, assets sold and distributed, debts settled and other related costs.

Probate is a time consuming, lengthy process, sometimes taking as long as a year or more depending on the complexity of the deceased’s estate. Although executors are entitled to manage the administration of an estate, any mistakes made in tax calculations or incorrect information on documentation will not only delay probate, it could hold you as the executor financially or legally responsible for the error.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.