If a deceased person leaves a will, it is necessary for the personal representatives to obtain a grant of probate. This is the document which gives the personal representatives the authority to deal with the estate which will involve identifying and gathering in the assets, paying off any debts and tax and distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the will.
If a law firm has been instructed to obtain a grant of probate, from 2 November 2020, all such applications must be made using a specific online service. It is necessary for firms doing this work to sign up to the online service.
There are a number of situations where it is not mandatory for professional firms to use the online service including:
- A grant of administration including a grant of administration with will annexed
- A grant in respect of a foreign will
If a personal representative decides to instruct a law firm to deal with the application for a grant of probate, they should check that the firm has registered with the online service and is properly equipped to deal with the application in this way.
Increasing obligations are placed on personal representatives when handling the estate of the deceased. In fact, the clue is in the name – 'personal' representatives – meaning that the person administering the estate takes on considerable personal responsibility in doing so. It is therefore very important for the personal representative to ensure that all assets are identified and that all tax is paid. Inheritance tax is becoming increasingly complex and therefore to ensure that they have adequate protection and advice, personal representatives may decide that it is worthwhile obtaining specialist advice.
To discuss this or any other estate administration matter, contact us.