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Probate

(25 Posts)
madasamarchhare Thu 28-May-15 18:14:14

Has anyone had experience of being an executor of a will and how complicated (or not!) probate is? I have been appointed executor of a will. There is a house to sell and various investments to realise. I am wondering if this will be something I will be able to organise myself or whether I should appoint a solicitor. We don't think we will fall into IHT thank goodness but there are no debts or anything that appears too complicated. I am not stupid and have a bit of a banking background. I have some time I can spare each week. What do you wise mnetters think?

Mopmay Thu 28-May-15 18:20:55

We did ours ourself. Takes some time and attention but will save you thousands in solicitor bills

madasamarchhare Thu 28-May-15 18:24:54

Thank you mop. Was it reasonably straightforward? Did you have to go back over the last few years for info or was it more a case of getting balances at date of death and entering everything on a form. Also do you know when a valuation is done on the house do you need to tell them it's for probate and can an ordinary estate agent do it? Thanks in advance I do feel a bit clueless

Mopmay Thu 28-May-15 18:29:10

It was a while ago but it's what's left that matters as far as I recall. The booklets / info is quite detailed. We just got 3 agents to give us a price. We went with average. We kept the valuations in case it was queried.

madasamarchhare Thu 28-May-15 18:33:33

That's lovely thank you I think I might get all the info and a form and see what it all looks like! Just feels like such a responsibility but I'm not stupid and I do begrudge paying someone to do what I can do myself. I have planned to visit the probate office next week so think I'll go along and see what info I can pick up.

inmyheadimthequeen Thu 28-May-15 18:41:27

Hi I've just done this quite recently. I used a solicitor because I wanted to keep everything formal for the various beneficiaries but I work in finance and thought that I could realistically have done it myself. The solicitor fees were about 1% of the estate so it would have been a big saving. The estate I executed was very straightforward - a house and various investments but nothing complicated, banks and building societies mainly. The probate value on the investments was at date of death; I provided the solicitor with written evidence from the relevant firms. The house value was just a regular estate agency valuation and I wasn't asked for any proof, just put the value on the form. I had to swear the probate in the solicitor's office but I think you can do that directly in the probate office if you are nearby (I was a long way away). The probate took less than a week to come through. Tbh, the tax return was the most complicated part of the whole experience.

inmyheadimthequeen Thu 28-May-15 18:44:25

The HMRC website is very helpful and there's a government one, try this www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance

Mopmay Thu 28-May-15 18:45:03

We did it just following the guidance and saved lots of money. Just needs good organisation and attention to detail

throckenholt Thu 28-May-15 18:47:08

I did it for my mum's will. House to sell, a few isas to sell off etc. No inheritance tax. No too difficult, but quite time consuming.

I bought a Which? book which had everything you needed to know.

I wouldn't have wanted to pay a solicitor to do it, especially as I would have had to do all the legwork providing them with the right information in the first place.

littleblackno Thu 28-May-15 19:02:30

I did it recently after my dad died. There was a proerty involved but I bought my brother out. Isas and savings but under inheritance tax threshold. it was time consuming but surprisingly straightforward. I'm glad I didn't pay for a solicitor but I can understand why people might do if there are any arguments in the family.

madasamarchhare Thu 28-May-15 19:11:35

Thank you all that's I very helpful. Pretty much the same situation isa and bonds and a few investment accounts to cash in. As well as a property to sell. We anticipate it won't fall into the inheritance tax bracket but if it does I feel we will be forced to appoint a solicitor. I think the way I feel I will give it a try I certainly won't pay a solicitor to do the information gathering when I am quite capable of writing letters and making phone calls. Did you need to value belongings which were left. I'm thinking of all furniture and all personal belongings in the house. I think she has a lot of jewellery but not certain exactly what. Did you need to put values of these on the probate form?
When does the tax return get filled in. Do you have to do that after the estate has been settled and are you liable for any tax if the estate didn't fall into IHT?
Sorry so many questions. You are a wise lot.

TalkinPeace Thu 28-May-15 19:17:41

if the total value of the estate is below the IHT limit (pretty easy to work out) you are mad to let a solicitor take a percentage of everything for doing very little - which is what they do.

if no IHT the only other issue would be income tax to date of death - but that might be a refund back to the estate too.

Help the Aged have some really good help sheets
and the HMRC probate team are just brilliant - they know the pain of those they deal with

madasamarchhare Thu 28-May-15 19:23:08

Thank you talkin I know you're right. That's a good point that Hmrc could be helpful too. Sometimes it's knowing where to go or who to call for advice.

inmyheadimthequeen Thu 28-May-15 19:29:07

A few questions there. You probably already know that IHT kicks in at £325k (well it did last year anyway). However, it may be helpful to know that if the estate is on the second death of a couple, and the first death didn't generate an IHT liability because it was a transfer between spouses and was under the limit, then the first death's allowance rolls over so the actual allowance is £650k (it's based on percentages and there are date limitations so that's a simplification but it could mean a much higher IHT threshold than you expect.

Jewellery and personal effects: we didn't put these on the form. I mentioned them to the solicitor and he told me that HMRC looks at the actual realisable value for probate purposes, so furniture, personal stuff etc would be the actual second hand values. It may be different if you have a house full of art and antiques or piles of diamonds but for a normal home, not worth having it valued. In practice, we gave most stuff to charity and certainly didn't have anything that would have realised more than a few quid.

When you report the death to HMRC (the registrar may do this for you under the 'tell us once' process), you will receive a tax return. I think from memory you have to fill this in within a year of the death but I wanted to do it quickly as I thought there would be a liability. You are not liable for the tax but the estate is so it makes sense to get it sorted before you settle the inheritance on the beneficiaries. You need to account for income tax and capital gains (as you would with normal self assessment).

madasamarchhare Thu 28-May-15 19:56:00

Thank you inmyhead. Yes this is the second death, everything had passed from one to the other so I think we to probably do have a greater allowance. I wonder if it's complicated to prove that. Yes no arts or antiques here either will likely donate furniture to charity. Oh dear how complicated is a tax return. Never had to fill one out. Feels so much to take in and organise. I'm sure it will become clearer once we start making steps to get things sorted.

TalkinPeace Thu 28-May-15 20:08:55

The probate tax return is very simple.

Any pensions will provide a P60 at the date of death showing income and tax deducted
Any savings accounts will provide a balance to the date of death quantifying interest earned and tax paid.
Any investments will provide valuations at the date of death.
There are boxes for each on the form.

Fill them in, add it up, send it off and HMRC will either issue a refund or request a payment.

madasamarchhare Thu 28-May-15 20:17:57

Lovely thank you that sounds easy enough!

throckenholt Fri 29-May-15 15:22:08

Forgot to say - if you haven't already get quite a few certified copies of the death certificate. Each financial institution will want a copy of that (will return it) before doing anything - later they may want to see the probate form. It can speed things up if you don't have to wait for returns before you can get on to the next one on the list.

throckenholt Fri 29-May-15 15:32:28

You question - you do value the furniture - but a general estimate of second value for the contents is fine unless you have some specific pieces that would need separate valuation - same for jewelry.

Tax bit gets done once the estate is fully valued (so after probate) and prio to distribution of the proceeds.

inmyheadimthequeen Fri 29-May-15 18:08:15

To prove the additional tax threshold we provided a copy of the death cert and will from the first death, that showed that it was a transfer between spouses. I'm not sure if HMRC knew there was no IHT liability on first death but I presume that they would be able to check this; it seemed to be sufficient evidence anyway. There was also a form to sign to claim the increased threshold of 650k but it was very straightforward and signposted on the probate form. As mentioned it's a percentage of the unused allowance not a flat amount, and there's a date restriction but it really was very straightforward, much easier than I had anticipated.

Agree with the PP who said to order extra copies of the death certificate, they offered this in the registration process and it made life so much easier. You need to pay but it's not much (a couple of £ I think). Everything you spend to adminster the estate - like fees and funeral expenses - can be deducted when calculating the probate value.

Penfold007 Fri 29-May-15 18:27:28

I've been an executor twice and did everything myself. It was fine, I find the HMRC and .gov sites really helpful.

janieolsen Wed 03-Jun-15 09:57:00

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

littleblackno Sun 07-Jun-15 21:57:17

Sorry to come back to this post, but I've just remembered that I also opened an executor account at the bank. everything to do with it went through it so it didn't have to be mixed up with my money and there is a paper trail for any expenditure - there were utility bills etc to be paid on the property. All my dads accounts were paid into it then paid out to me and my brother. Not many banks do that type of account I had one with hsbc.

Mopmay Sun 07-Jun-15 23:25:30

We had one within nat west too

Dowser Wed 10-Jun-15 10:03:36

Me and my daughter did it together. It was time consuming because we both lead busy lives but it was straightforward and as you have to gather info for a solicitor you may as well go that extra mile and do it yourself unless you have complicated trusts, expensive items etc which we didn't.

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