How Does The Intestacy Process Work?
If you have begun to look into Intestacy following a bereavement, we will assume here that you’ve already exhausted all options in terms of looking for a legally valid will. If there is no valid will then the deceased will have died ‘intestate’ and the rules of Intestacy will apply to their estate and any inheritance from that estate.
When you use an intestacy specialist such as a Probate Solicitor, they will advise and assist you with the following steps:
Completing the probate application form (known as a ‘PA1’) to submit to the Probate Registry in order to apply for the ‘grant of representation’ (sometimes referred to as ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’). This gives you the legal right to handle the administration of the deceased person’s estate and in particular to access the deceased person’s bank account and also approach any other financial bodies such as National Savings (Premium Bonds) or pension and life insurance providers.
Approaching any companies that the deceased had dealings with and obtain outstanding ‘date of death’ balances from them. These could include credit card companies, utility companies, Council Tax, Income Tax etc.
Completing the necessary HMRC forms for Inheritance Tax. These are required in all cases – whether or not the estate is subject to Inheritance Tax – and must be submitted before probate can be granted. Any houses or other property owned by the deceased will need to be independently valued and the value specified on the forms.
At the time of writing, form IHT205 will need to be completed for estates valued below £325,000 (and therefore exempt from Inheritance Tax) and form IHT400 for estates over £325,000.
All financial outlay and any debts including those mentioned above, along with funeral expenses will need to be specified and deducted from total value of the estate to provide the net estate value.
Instructing an estate research company or genealogist where applicable to ensure that all parties eligible to inherit a share of the estate are established, traced and contacted.
Distributing the estate – making sure that the beneficiaries of the estate receive that which they are entitled to inherit under Intestacy rules.
As you can see, the process is both time consuming and complex even for a simple estate. Estates that have more complex financial affairs may also require additional accountancy services.
Unless you are highly skilled and experienced in all of the areas above, handling the estate of someone who died intestate is a job best left to those who are. This will also limit any personal liability that you would expose yourself to through any mistakes or oversights made in handling what for the vast majority of people is a hugely unfamiliar process.