Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, June 26, 2020

Probate: 10 Things You Need to Know

D1b06968-9e75-448e-b9d6-372338f3d838Below is a summary of a UK article that offers a few tips on sorting out financial affairs during the global pandemic. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic means that many people that have agreed to be named as executor on a friend or family member's will years ago, will have to step up and do their duty and apply for probate. 

Financial Times asked their readers to tell them about their experiences navigating the Probate system and from that put a list of 10 things that should be considered when going through probate.

Here are the 10 things you should know about Probate:

1.  Don’t leave your executors in the dark

If you are named as an executor on a family member or friends will, speak with them about their financial situation while they are still alive.

2. Record every detail

Keep a detailed record of everything you know about the financial situation to ensure a smooth transition.

3. Be prepared for delays

Be ready for any hiccups that may occur throughout the process so that you are not caught by surprise and put in a bind.

4. Get lots of death certificates

You're going to need these, as almost everyone you have to go through (banks, etc.) will likely ask for one.

5. Lasting Power of Attorney

Be aware that a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) only remains valid during the person’s lifetime.

6. The seven-year glitch

Several readers found they needed at least seven years of bank statements to check for gifts made before death.

7. Inheritance tax deadlines

The deadline for any payment of inheritance tax due is six months from the end of the month of death

8. Negotiate legal costs

Many readers stressed that deals can be done and that relatives should not be afraid of negotiating with solicitors or estate agents.

9. Valuing assets can be costly

It is also worth challenging the cost of asset valuations.

10. Protecting the estate after death

Any valuable assets need to be removed and the property needs to be maintained so that it is not obvious that it is empty.

See Lindsay Cook, Probate: 10 Things You Need to Know , Financial Times, June 19, 2020.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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