Unwrapping the mysteries of probate: what you need to know and why

Asset information and forms needed by HMRC from anyone going through probate.

Probate is a necessary legal and financial process that everyone must go through if their estate is worth over £5,000. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

What is probate, who needs to do it, and how can you apply?

Gary Taylor, director of Taylormade Estate Planning in the Cotswolds, continues his series of how-to articles, to make getting your affairs in order simple.

This month he tells us more about the probate process, explains why it’s nothing to fear and how finding the right help can make life easier for you and your family.

Q: What is probate?

A: Probate is the process of dealing with someone’s estate after they die if they have an individual estate value of over £5000.

Gary Taylor from TaylorMade Estate Planning in the Cotswolds.

Gary Taylor, founder of TaylorMade Estate Planning in the Cotswolds. - Credit: TaylorMade Estate Planning

Q: Why do I need to go through probate?

A: You need to know the full value of someone’s estate at the time that they pass, to ensure that any inheritance tax has been calculated and paid and that the residual estate can be correctly passed to the beneficiaries.

During probate, you need to gather death certificates and details of all assets and liabilities owned by the deceased so you can correctly calculate the total value of their estate.

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Q: I’m not sure my estate is worth over £5,000 - does this mean I don’t need to worry about probate?

A: Most people have estates worth over £5,000. This is because many of us own a home, have more than one bank account, several pension funds, multiple insurance policies and various savings or investments. These are all assets that may need to be considered and accounted for in probate.

Q: Who handles probate?

A: An executor or administrator of the estate takes care of probate. Though you can seek assistance with probate, it’s these people that hold legal responsibility.

Q: Where can I go for help with probate?

A: You can do probate yourself, though it is often a lengthy and overwhelming process. Many people aren’t sure where to begin or know what it entails.

Seeking professional assistance can ensure probate is done correctly, help you avoid tax complications, and ensure each beneficiary receives what they are due.

We have found over the years that our clients wanted differing levels of involvement with the probate process, so we provide a flexible approach called “Probate Assist”, which allows our clients to choose how much help they want.

  • Bronze Probate Assist – this is ideal for those that want to manage probate themselves. We will explain the process to you and point you in the right direction to get started.
  • Silver Probate Assist – also gives you access to templates you can use to gather the asset and liability information you need.
  • Gold Probate Assist – we'll also prepare the probate application and tax forms you need based on the estate information provided to us.
  • Platinum Probate Assist – this is a comprehensive service where we’ll take care of everything for you and provide expert guidance and support every step of the way. This is perfect for families that don’t understand probate, aren’t used to handling finances or who simply aren’t in the headspace to deal with such matters during an already difficult time.

By offering clients a choice in the level of service they want, they can take control, find the option that’s right for them, and only pay for the part of the service that they need.

Taylormade Estate Planning services in the Cotswolds

Visit tayloremadeplanning.co.uk to find out how they can help you. - Credit: Taylormade Estate Planning

Q: What is the first stage of probate?

A: In some ways, the first steps of probate begin long before someone handles the estate. It starts with you. Planning your estate, regularly reviewing your finances and writing your will are steps you can take now to provide for your family’s future, find peace of mind and make probate easier for those you leave behind.

For anyone going through probate, the best place to start is to understand more about the process. This makes it easier to plan and navigate. Probate is not always a pleasant topic to consider, but it’s an important one and something that must be dealt with. We can provide you with the reassurance that you need.

Everyone deals with bereavement differently, which is why we’re passionate about focusing on our clients, tailoring our services to suit, and providing the bespoke help you as an individual need.

For help finding your way through probate, visit taylormadeplanning.co.uk.   

Contact 0750 772 0523 or hello@taylormadeplanning.co.uk.