Power of Attorney and Probate
Often as people age, they appoint relatives or friends to make important decisions – typically medical and/or financial ones – on their behalf, should they become unable make such decisions themselves. This is called power of attorney.
If you have power of attorney for a person during their lifetime, this has no bearing on whether or not Probate is required when they pass away. Power of attorney legally ends when the individual dies, so any responsibility you hold for their affairs also stops at this point.
After the individual’s death, responsibility for the estate passes to either the executors named in the Will or, if there’s no Will, the closest living relative. This may well be the same person who had power of attorney – after all, if you’re trusted to make decisions during someone’s lifetime, it makes sense that you’re trusted to do the same after death.
But even if you had power of attorney and are now an executor, you still have to prove to banks and other institutions that you have the legal authority to deal with the estate. This is obtained through Probate.
The need for Probate is based solely on what assets the person had and the total value of those assets. Some establishments will release funds without Probate if the value of the estate is less than £50,000. Others will only release them if the value is below £5,000, so even if the deceased’s estate is small, Probate may still be required.
What’s required for Probate?
In order to obtain a Grant of Probate (if there’s a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there’s no Will), all the assets within the estate must be valued, along with any outstanding debts. Where necessary, inheritance tax forms must be completed too. Administering an estate is a big task which typically takes up to 12 months to complete, which is why many people engage a Kent accountant for Probate services to help.
Accountants with a licence to deal with Probate can assist with valuations of assets, calculations of inheritance tax and more, relieving some of the burden on executors. They will also be able to advise on whether the estate is large enough that Probate is necessary.
How long does it take to receive inheritance?
You can usually expect to wait between 6-12 months to receive inheritance. The time it takes to administer an estate depends on a wide range of factors from selling property and other assets to giving creditors the opportunity to claim repayment from the estate. Most Kent tax advisors and legal representatives will also advise that funds aren’t distributed for six months after the Grant of Probate has been received. This is in case anyone unexpectedly comes forward to make a claim on the estate.
If you’re unsure whether you need to get Probate for an estate, or you’d like guidance on your administrative duties as an executor, speak to an accountant for Probate services or a legal advisor today.