Probate, Taxation and Succession Planning

When a person dies, everything he/she owned except assets where ownership ceases on death or passes automatically is referred to as the deceased’s “estate”. After payment of debts and taxes, the “estate” is divided among the beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s Will or if there is no Will, among the closest relatives in accordance with rules set out in the Succession Act. The rules relating to the distribution of estates also provides for civil partners as the relevant legislation was commenced in January 2011.

Executors are the persons named in the Will to deal with the estate. Where there is a Will but no executor, or where there is no will, the law provides who among the deceased’s beneficiaries or closest living relatives is entitled to deal with the estate; this person is called an administrator. The functions of the personal representative involve:

• Protecting the assets of the estate, e.g. making sure that everything is properly insured.

• Taking reasonable steps to secure property and valuables. • Arranging lists of property and valuables and arranging for valuations of all property which was owned by the deceased including land, shares, bank accounts etc.

• Finding out what debts have to be paid. • Obtaining all other information necessary to obtain the legal documents which will allow the executor or administrator to deal with the estate.

A ‘grant of representation’ is the legal document which issues from the High Court Probate Office which allows the personal representative(s) to collect all assets of the deceased and administer the estate. Where the person(s) named as executor under the will extract a grant of representation such document is known as a Grant of Probate. Where somebody other than the executors extract the Grant, the legal document is known as a Grant of Administration with Will Annexed. Where there is no Will, it is known as a Grant of Administration Intestate. Until the Grant of Representation issues from the Probate Office, the personal representatives are generally unable to deal with the assets owned by the deceased person. In limited circumstances, it may be possible to administer an estate without obtaining a grant.

Perhaps you have been appointed an executor and are not sure what this involves. We aim to provide a stress free and efficient service at an affordable price. We can also handle the sale of any property contained within the estate.

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