UK GRANT OF PROBATE - DUTIES OF EXECUTORS
The individual named as executor in the deceased's will must obtain a grant of probate before beginning to carry out their duties under the will. A grants of probate is issued by the Probate Registry. The grant of probate is what endows the executor with the authority to collect, manage and distribute the deceased's assets. Executors must pay off the debts of the estate as well as dispense inheritances to the beneficiaries.
As you can see, serving as the executor of a will means taking on a large personal responsibility. Complicated valuations must be performed, and the executor is liable for ensuring that taxes are paid and inheritances are received. Because of the extensive and complex nature of their duties, executors often hire solicitors to assist them throughout the process.
In order to obtain a grant of probate, the proposed executor must start by assessing the value of the deceased's estate. When performing the valuation, the proposed executor must also determine the total amount of outstanding liabilities, which can include unpaid debts and the inheritance tax. Once this initial assessment has been completed, the proposed executor can apply to the Probate Registry for a grant of probate. Along with the application, the proposed executor must also include the original will as well as a sworn affidavit which details the estate.
Documents must also be submitted to the Capital Taxes Office which determines whether or not there is inheritance tax to pay. Only if the Capital Taxes Office is satisfied with the documentation will it approve the grant of probate to be issued by the Probate Registry.
Once the executor has received the necessary authority through the grant of probate, the work of managing the assets begins. The executor must gather the deceased's assets, which can involve calling in bank accounts and selling property. Before the beneficiaries can receive their inheritances, any and all outstanding liabilities must be paid. The remainder can then be distributed according to the terms of the will.
In order to obtain a grant of probate, the proposed executor must show that the will is valid. There are times when a third party may want to go to court in order to challenge the grant of probate. Below is an outline of the requirements of a valid will. If any of these requirements are not met, potential beneficiaries may have grounds for contesting the will's validity and the grant of probate:
the testator must be at least 18 years of age
the testator cannot be under any undue influence while making or executing the will
the testator must be of sound mind and must fully understand the meaning of the will
the will must be signed by two witnesses, who observed the testator signing the document
the witnesses should not be beneficiaries
adequate provision should be made for dependents
If the original will is lost, the executor must apply to the High Court of Justice to have a copy of the will approved. An individual who was a beneficiary of an earlier will may want to challenge the validity of the copy. Also, dependents of the deceased, such as a minor or spouse, can bring a legal action in the High Court of Justice if they are not adequately provided for in the will.
Our solicitors offer free legal advice on all matters related to wills and probate. For a confidential consultation, simply call us on our helpline or fill out the contact form on this website. You will be contacted by one of our experienced wills and probate solicitors. There is no charge for the consultation, and you are under no further obligations.