Full Estate Administration Service or a Grant of Probate only?

Many customers call Affinion Probate advising that they have been quoted thousands of pounds elsewhere to obtain Probate and administer an Estate. However, when discussing the details with the customer it is often the case that this is not what the customer actually needs, it’s just that they didn’t know there was another (and much less expensive) option!

At Affinion Probate we firmly believe in customer choice. For some customers, having the secure knowledge that a solicitor will be managing the entire Estate means that not only do they know that everything will be dealt with correctly and efficiently, they also don’t have the time burden sitting on their shoulders. However, for a lot of customers the Estates they are responsible for administering are relatively simple, and where this is the case using our Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration only service makes total sense as they can then administer the rest of the Estate themselves.

For example, a simple Estate Administration might have a property that needs to be sold or transferred to the new owner, a couple of bank accounts, and one or two beneficiaries. This is actually quite simple to administer, and as such in many cases the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration only service is a very good option. Affinion can advise on how to close down the bank accounts, and we also offer property sales, conveyancing, and property transfer services as well should they be needed.

Full estate administration can be a sensible option in certain cases. These are:

  • Complex Estate – where the Estate has, for example, many assets and liabilities, trusts, tax issues that need to be resolved
  • High risk – particularly where there is likely to be inheritance tax to pay, using the full estate administration service means that in most cases the risk of incorrectly filing the inheritance tax returns is removed from the Executor / Administrator
  • Time – where the executor doesn’t have the time to administer the Estate. It takes on average 50 hours of work to administer an Estate.
  • Burden – for some people, the burden of responsibility to the Estate and beneficiaries is enough reason to choose the full Estate administration service
  • Family / beneficiary / Executor tensions – where there are tensions between interested parties is can be very sensible to get a professional to administer the Estate. This eradicates the typical difficulties that can be faced in these scenarios.

Ultimately, the choice is an individual one. At https://www.affinionprobate.co.uk/ we always present the options and make a recommendation, however the choice is the customer’s. So if you have been to a solicitor and been quoted thousands of pounds, give Affinion Probate a call and see what other options might be available to you, it could save you thousands.

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Estate Administration Services

Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration enables the person administering an Estate to realise all of the assets from the deceased’s Estate. After that they need to collect in all the assets, pay any liabilities, calculate and settle any capital gains tax liabilities and distribute the Estate proceeds in accordance with the Will or rules of intestacy where there is no Will.

For customers who prefer to have this whole process looked after for them, Affinion offer a full Estate Administration service. It includes obtaining the Grant of Probate or letters of Administration (to understand these please see here  https://www.affinionprobate.co.uk/letters-of-administration/) and then all the additional work that is required to administer the Estate to the point where the beneficiaries are paid.

This includes:

  1. Estate Assessment
    1. Review the Will or apply rules of intestacy
    2. Contact and advise all personal representatives of their role
    3. Contact and ID check all beneficiaries
    4. Notify all relevant financial institutions of the death and obtain asset valuations
    5. Undertake Land Registry checks
    6. Apply property insurance if applicable
  2. Estate Valuation
    1. Obtain assets values
    2. Obtain HMRC compliant property valuations
    3. Establish any outstanding liabilities
    4. Take steps to identify gifts made within the last 7 years
    5. Arrange for joint holdings to be transferred to the surviving owner
    6. Liaise with HMRC regarding income tax position to the date of death
  3. Grant application
    1. Prepare a detailed schedule of assets and liabilities
    2. Complete and submit the correct Inheritance tax return
    3. Complete and submit the Probate application
    4. Place legal notices to protect the Personal Representative from personal liability
  4. Collecting in the assets and settle any liabilities
    1. Send the Grant to financial institutions that have requested it to release the funds
    2. Prepare the transfer of any shares or investments
    3. Prepare property transfer forms
    4. Settle any liabilities
    5. Assess any claims on the Estate
    6. Identify any Capital Gains Tax due
    7. Liaise with HMRC to finalise the Income Tax affairs in the year to date of death
  5. Initial distribution to beneficiaries
    1. Set up any trusts created by the Will
    2. Transfer property to the beneficiaries
    3. Transfer assets to beneficiaries
    4. Prepare an interim set of estate accounts
    5. Conduct bankruptcy searches of the beneficiaries
    6. Make electronic payment to the beneficiaries
    7. Confirm with the beneficiaries the amount paid to them and outline the next steps in the administration process
  6. Estate accounts and final distribution
    1. Pay the final liabilities
    2. Ensure Income Tax position for the Estate Administration period has been finalised
    3. Ensure Capital Gains Tax has been calculated, paid and clearance received
    4. Ensure all assets have been confirmed as sold or transferred
    5. Prepare a final set of Estate Accounts detailing all financial transactions during the estate administration process
    6. Send the Estate Accounts to the Personal Representatives for approval
    7. Prepare Estate Income Tax certificates for the beneficiaries
    8. Once approved, distribute the final amounts due to the beneficiaries
    9. Register any relevant Trust with HMRC

 

Affinion Probate services offer this complete service from as little as £995 plus VAT and disbursements and the fees for the work are taken from the Estate prior to distribution to the beneficiaries, ie there is nothing to pay upfront. If you would like to discuss the service or obtain a quote, we would be happy to advise you.

Affinion Probate Services

Here at Affinion Probate we specialise in providing low cost high quality probate services to hundreds of satisfied customers each year.

However, we do offer much more than just a Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration as we understand that everyone who needs probate have their own unique requirements as to exactly what kind of and how much help and support they need. Therefore, providing a choice of services to our customers is very important to us.

In this blog we are going to take a look at the other services we provide.

As well as our market leading Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration services we also provide what is referred to as ‘End to End Probate and full Estate Administration’. This service comprises of not just obtaining the grant of probate but also completing all of the required estate administration tasks on their behalf as well. This includes writing to all of the asset holders and gathering in the assets of the estate, paying any debts or liabilities against the estate, posting legal notices in local papers to ensure no monies are owed from the estate to unknown third parties, distributing the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries and preparing the estate accounts. This service provides total coverage on behalf of the customer allowing them to be released from some of the burdens and responsibilities of obtaining the probate and dealing with the administration of the estate.

Approximately seventy per cent of estates requiring probate have a property and these must be either sold or transferred to the ownership of the beneficiaries. We can arrange for the transfer of ownership from the sole name of the deceased into the names of the beneficiaries or from a jointly held property into the name of the surviving joint owner. Where a property is going to be sold we provide services for marketing the property with top performing local estate agents, arranging viewings and agreeing the sale price right through to the legal conveyancing work required. We also provide a service for the valuation of properties for probate purposes that satisfy HMRC requirements.

Where the personal representatives of an estate wish to protect themselves from any liabilities against claims from creditors of the deceased’s estate we can post ‘Statutory Notices’ in the London Gazette (which the legal industry refer to) and the local newspaper where the deceased lived. These notices advertise the intention to distribute the estate in accordance with the wishes set out in the Will or by the Rules of intestacy where there is no Will. Any interested parties have a maximum of two months to come forward with any claims they think they may have, after this time period they cannot raise a claim.

Dealing with probate can be difficult enough and when you add to that the emotional strain of dealing the loss of a loved one, the more help and support that is available the better. We help many of our customers not only with probate and the other services we have discussed but also by providing a notification service to inform banks, building societies, utility providers and insurance companies about the bereavement on the customer’s behalf. In addition we can also stop unwanted junk mail being sent to the deceased person’s address which can be distressing. We provide this service free of charge and within 2-3 months of registering, sales and marketing letters will stop.

So as you can see Affinion Probate help customers not only with the legal and tax elements of obtaining  probate but also across every step of the way when dealing with a recent bereavement.

Who is entitled to apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?

We often receive calls from people asking to apply for a Grant of Probate UK or Letters of Administration service when they are not the person legally entitled to make the application.

So who can apply? The application is made by the ‘Personal Representative(s)’ of the Estate.  However, who this is depends on whether the deceased left a Will or not.

Where there is a Will (Grant of Probate application), it is fairly straightforward as the Personal Representative (known as ‘Executor’ where there is a Will) makes the application.  It is common for Wills to also list ‘contingent Executors’. These are people who will act as Executor only in defined scenarios, such as if the principle Executor(s) has died. All the Executors need to sign the Probate application forms and swear the Oath.

If there is no Will the Personal Representative is known as the ‘Administrator’. This person is defined by the ‘Rules of Intestacy’. There are strict guidelines in the Rules of Intestacy setting out who is the ‘Administrator’. We won’t cover the full list here, but to give you an idea it is firstly the spouse or Civil Partner of the deceased, but if there is no spouse or Civil Partner then it falls to the children of the deceased, or failing that their children if the deceased’s children are not still alive. If that fails, then it falls to the parents, and so on….

Now interestingly, where there is no Will, if there are multiple people who can make the application, such as children, then there is a ‘first past the post’ rule, whereby the first to make the Letters of Administration application thereby becomes the legal administrator of the Estate.

On a practical note, we often find that the legal ‘Personal Representative’ does not want to do the leg-work in making the Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration application. There can be many reasons for this. Where this is the case we take a prudent approach, and if they are happy to authorise someone close to them to speak with us, we can liaise with someone who is not the Personal Representative to collect the Estate details, so long as the legal Personal Representative signs the application and swears the Oath. In some circumstances the legal Personal Representative may actually ‘renounce’ their role as Personal Representative in favour of someone else, or at very least take ‘Power Reserved’ so they can be reinstated at a later date should they wish.

So there we have it, the application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is made by the ‘Personal Representative(s)’ of the Estate.  Who this is depends on whether the deceased left a Will or not.

For more information why not visit our website https://www.affinionprobate.co.uk/ or call us on 0330 555 8000.

Probate: Do I need to visit a high street solicitor?

It is a common misconception that in order to apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration that one needs to visit a local solicitor.

Yet most Probate solicitors will require their customers to visit their office in order to collect the required information. This means booking an appointment in the working week, and sometimes even paying for the initial consultation, before attending in person. At Affinion Probate we believe there is a better way, and the initial consultation (which is free) is held by phone so that you are in the comfort of your own home. We don’t believe our customers need to be unnecessarily inconvenienced.

We then accept copies of documents, which many customers prefer to send as a scan on an email, or a photocopy in the post. This again adds to the convenience and really helps to speed up the process. We always contact our customers as soon as we receive any documentation from them, so they have the reassurance that everything is in hand. Keeping customers up to date and reassured is one of the fundamental principles of Affinion Probate.

By dealing with Probate and only Probate, our processes are market leading, and that is why we can guarantee a fast turnaround of Probate applications. We also do not prioritise any customers over others; everyone gets an exceptional service. It is important to remember that if you are contemplating using a local solicitor they will often by undertaking many different types of legal work, so won’t necessarily be set up to progress your Probate application as quickly as possible. And of course, if an important court case appears that they need to deal with, your Probate application is not likely to be their priority. Here at Affinion, because we only do Probate, whilst you still get a qualified and regulated solicitor to make your Probate application, no customer is ever overlooked and every Probate application is given a first class service.

In summary, it is not necessary to visit a local solicitor when applying for a Grant of Probate service or Letters of Administration. At Affinion we try to minimise inconvenience, give an outstanding level of service to every single customer, and provide our customers with regular progress updates. We are pleased that our customers highly value the service, and we welcome people to view customer feedback about our service at Trustpilot – www.uk.trustpilot.com/review/affinionprobate.co.uk

Probate Fees

Introduction

Most people who apply for Probate have never done so before, and as such it is hard to know whether a price quoted by a legal provider is fair and reasonable, and whether they can expect any other charges further down the road. Here we set out the basics of Probate fees.

Fee structure

Firstly, for a basic Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration application, there are three core elements:

  • The fee for the work undertaken
  • The Probate Court application fee
  • VAT

When obtaining quotes it is vital to ensure that you are comparing like for like, therefore it is best to ask for a fully inclusive fee.

If your chosen solicitor charges on an hourly rate, you also need to be aware that each phone call, email or other communication may also be charged at their hourly rate to read and respond to. For this reason we recommend people to get quotes for a ‘fixed fee’ service, so they know the price will not go up from the initial quote.

Variances for type of application

If there is no inheritance tax to pay, the likelihood is that you will only need the standard application. However, where there are certain complexities to the Estate, or if inheritance tax is due on the Estate, then more complex forms are required to be submitted and as such the fee will likely be higher. At Affinion we diagnose what type of Probate application you require and then provide a fixed fee quote for that service.

Any other variances

Because there can be complexities with certain Estates, other fees can be due. For example, if the title of a property needs to be transferred into the beneficiary’s name, or if an Executor wishes to renounce their role.

What is a good price to pay for Probate?

According to the Money Advice Service “Some probate specialists and solicitors charge an hourly rate while others charge a fee that is a percentage of the value of the estate.  This fee is usually calculated as between 1% to 5% of the value of the estate, plus VAT” (Ref 1).

So, on an Estate value of £200,000, with a fee of 1%, that’s £2,000 for Probate. Or based on an hourly rate of £200+VAT, that’s £960 for 4 hours of work.

At Affinion Probate we provide fixed fees that include the Court application fee and VAT. Our fees are typically half of what you would pay at a high street solicitor.

Some of our customers wonder how we can do this for such a low fee. The answer is simple – we use a two step process. Firstly, one of our expert advisors ascertains your Probate need. They then liaise with you to collect all the relevant information and documents, before collating this in a format designed to make the solicitor’s work as efficient as possible. Once this is passed to the solicitor, step two begins. They check the information, prepare all the relevant documentation and submissions, and speak with the customer to talk them through and keep them abreast of the process and progress against it. In essence, having the solicitor only focused on the legal work, and not the preparation element, enables us to guarantee such a low fee.

Conclusion

When obtaining quotes for Probate, make sure you get a fixed fee quote that is inclusive the Court application fee and VAT. Shop around to ensure you know you’re getting the best price. At Affinion however we guarantee that we will not be beaten on price, so naturally, don’t forget to phone Affinion probate.

Ref.1: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/when-to-use-a-probate-specialist#how-much-do-probate-services-cost

Letters of Administration

What are Letters of Administration?

We are often asked by customers for a ‘Grant of Probate’ when it is actually ‘Letters of Administration’ that they require. So, what is the difference?

Firstly, both of these terms are actually referred to as a ‘Grant of Representation’. Both the Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration are two different types of Grant of Representation.

And this points to the fact that, in truth, they are very much the same thing. They both act as a security measure to allow the deceased’s assets to be released to one or more people who have the legal authority to act and administer the estate. These people are called ‘Personal Representatives’. It proves to the asset holders that the person with the ‘Letters of Administration’ or ‘Grant of Probate’ is the correct and authorised person to access those assets (ie that they are the Personal Representative).

The difference is that the ‘Grant of Probate’ is the legal document required by the Personal Representative when the deceased left a valid Will. ‘Letters of Administration’ is the legal document required by the Personal Representative when the deceased left no Will.

To complicate matters further, when there is a Will the Personal Representative is called the ‘Executor’ of the Estate. When there is no Will the Personal Representative is called the ‘Administrator’ of the Estate.

Letters of Administration with Will annexed

If you have followed so far you’ve done well. But here’s one more term for you – ‘Letters of Administration with Will annexed’. This is where the deceased left a Will but did not appoint any Executors, or the Executors are unable or unwilling to act.

Who can be a Personal Representative?

If the deceased left a Will, then the Personal Representative is the Executor named in the Will. If the deceased left no Will then the Personal Representative (known as the Administrator here) is identified by following something called the ‘Rules of Intestacy’. These follow a strict order laid down by Law.

Please visit https://www.affinionprobate.co.uk/ for more information.

Grant of Probate Service

What is a Grant of Probate?

A grant of Probate is a legal document that needs to be obtained in order to release assets such as property or savings from the Estate of a deceased person. It is obtained by the person who is legally entitled to administer their Estate.

In essence, when a person dies their assets are ‘frozen’ to safeguard them against an ‘incorrect distribution’ to the wrong people. The Grant of Probate service enables a property to be sold or the deceased’s bank accounts and other financial assets to be accessed.

The Grant application includes two forms, the Probate Application (PA1) and a HMRC Inheritance tax form. There are three types of HMRC form used, and which one is used is dependent upon the nature and size of the Estate. They are the IHT205, IHT217 and IHT400.

What are ‘Letters of Administration’?

If the deceased left no Will the document is called the ‘Letters of Administration’. It is however, essentially the same thing. The generic term for both of these is the ‘Grant of Representation’. You may hear these terms when speaking with organisations helping you with practical matters following a death. Many people however use the term ‘Grant of Probate’ to refer to either.

When is a Grant of Probate required?

There are a variety of circumstances where a Grant of Probate may be required. The most common triggers are if there is a property to be sold or transferred, or if there are savings or investments above the ‘Probate threshold’. The Probate thresholds vary between financial institutions and can be as low as £5,000.

How long does it take?

Making a personal application for obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration takes an average of two to three months. There are a number of reasons for this including an average appointment time for your interview with the Probate Registry of up to six weeks. Other than that, Probate Registry and HMRC forms need to be completed and if these are being done for the first time it can be a very time consuming task.

If you want to obtain the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration faster than this, Affinion can help. This can be useful where you may want to gain access to assets quickly, such as selling a property.

Affinion can obtain the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in just 30 working days. There are several reasons we can do this so quickly:

  • We specialise in Probate and nothing else, so we are fast and efficient
  • We harness the latest technology to speed up the process
  • Probate Registries turn around professional applications faster than personal ones

Is there a cost?

  • If you apply directly there is a Court application fee of £215.
  • If you instruct Affinion Probate to undertake the work for you the total fee is £475 (IHT205) and this includes the Court application fee.

Using a professional will ensure the application is made accurately and quickly. The Affinion service will:

  • Provide you with a dedicated Case Manager
  • Check the validity of the Will or apply the Rules of Intestacy if there is no Will
  • Complete the Probate application form
  • Prepare the Oath required to be sworn by the Executors and Administrators
  • Complete the Inheritance Tax forms (whether tax is due or not)
  • Calculate any Inheritance Tax liability
  • Apply for the Grant of Probate

Need help?

Our specialists appreciate that this can be a difficult time and if you are having to deal with a loved one’s estate, we can help. We will make the experience as stress-free as possible by removing the burdens and responsibilities of the application process from you.

You can call us on 0330 555 8000 or visit our website at www.affinioprobate.co.uk.

The Affinion Probate Service

What is the Affinion difference?

Affinion Probate differentiates itself on four factors:

  • Price
  • Speed
  • Quality of Service
  • Values

Price, and how we are able be so competitive

Our price is significantly below the market average. Now that in itself is interesting. Often we shop around to get the best price for an item, because why would you pay more for exactly the same product or service? In fact, sometimes you can buy something cheaper and get it faster by shopping around. For example, an online retailer might offer the best price and the fastest delivery.

It’s the same with Probate. At the end of the day, if you need probate then you simply want to obtain the Grant of Probate certificate. As this is a legal document most people turn to a local solicitor. Solicitors will typically charge either a % of estate value or an hourly rate. If you go down that route it’s always best trying to get a written quote before you proceed. If you don’t, it’s hard to really know how much you will end up paying, and this can lead to some nasty surprises.

We believe there’s a better way – a low priced fixed fee. That’s why we charge from as little as £475 for a Grant of Probate, including VAT and the Court fee. And the price we quote is the price you will pay – no nasty surprises. How do we do this? We use highly experienced team members for all the non-legal aspects of the work, and solicitors for the parts that it is necessary they undertake. Furthermore, we utilise technology and class leading internal processes. This gives us great speed and low cost of delivery, which in turn gives you a great service at a great price.

Speed

The way Affinion is structured enables us to be fast and efficient.  First and foremost, we focus on Probate and nothing else. This means that we are not trying to undertake different types of law simultaneously. Rather, we just do Probate – day in, day out.  Secondly, we draw upon technology and efficient processes to get this done quickly, and accurately – right first time, every time.

Quality of Service

Great value and a fast service aren’t enough alone. That is why we pride ourselves on our quality, and it’s something we want to shout about. For this reason, Affinion are partnered with Trust Pilot to collect and publicly share customer feedback and reviews. Trust Pilot is one of the UKs most well respected and influential customer review organisation. The reviews are available on both uk.trustpilot.com and affinionprobate.co.uk.

Values

We have a set of core values that are at the foundation of everything we do. At Affinion we strive to:

  • Be approachable and caring
  • Consistently deliver exceptional customer service
  • Be transparent and have fixed and low prices
  • Support well known UK charities by donating 10% of our profits
  • Keep things simple and straightforward for our customers during a difficult time

For 2017 the charities Affinion are supporting include: Age UK, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, RSPCA, Alzheimer’s Society Great Ormand Street Hospital Charity.

In addition, we offer free practical bereavement advice and support through Affinion Bereavement Services.  Affinion has strict equality and diversity as well as environmental sustainability policies that we are proud to implement.

Summary

If you need to obtain a Grant of Probate service, Affinion will deliver this to you quickly and at a market leading price, together with the quality of customer service you should expect. Furthermore, you will be working with an organisation that has strong ethical principles and will do everything we can to ensure we live up to our high standards for every single customer.

Who are Affinion Probate and what makes us different?

Affinion Probate are specialists in delivering a fast and affordable Grant of Probate service, together with a range of related services.

We stand out from the crowd as we not only deliver the Grant of Probate for £475 inclusive of VAT and the court fee (which is market leading), but also guarantee a delivery time of 30 working days. No other providers of these services offer such a competitive price and guarantee a delivery time.

When obtaining the Grant of Probate, Affinion will complete all of the legal and tax responsibilities required, enabling you to then administer the deceased’s estate.

Should you prefer to have the entire estate administration taken care of for you, Affinion can also do this. This would mean not only applying for the Grant, but also collecting in the assets, paying any debts, preparing accounts and distributing the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries.

What other services do we offer?

Alongside these Probate and Estate Administration services, Affinion offer additional services that may be required for certain estates, such as conveyancing and publishing statutory notifications.

Conveyancing

If there is a property in the estate it may require a transfer of title ownership or be sold. For a fixed fee Affinion can help to: transfer the ownership of property from the sole name of the deceased to the beneficiaries; transfer the ownership of jointly owned property from the deceased to the surviving joint owner; arrange for the sale of the property by appointing and dealing with an Estate Agent and Conveyancer.

Statutory Notices

Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 enables Personal Representatives to protect themselves from liability against any claims from creditors of the deceased’s estate. This includes advertising the intention to convey or distribute the estate through a notice placed in The London Gazette and the deceased’s local newspaper, setting out a period of at least 2 months for any interested parties to send the particulars of their claim to the Personal Representative

Affinion Bereavement Notification Service

A notification service to quickly inform banks, building societies, utility providers and insurance companies about the recent bereavement. This enables accounts to be frozen so that the deceased’s identity and assets can be protected.

This service is most helpful just after the bereavement as there are many things to do. Informing companies at an early stage helps to protect the deceased’s identity from theft and fraud. Using Affinion’s service will help to save you both time and inconvenience.

Stop unwanted mail to the home of the deceased

Receiving mail addressed to the deceased can be very distressing. We can help to stop mail being sent to the address of the deceased by registering with ‘The Bereavement Register’. This service is completely free of charge and within 2-3 months of registering all marketing and sales literature will stop.

How can I be confident Affinion will do a great job?

Affinion use Trust Pilot to collect and share customer feedback and reviews. Trust Pilot is the UKs most well respected and influential customer review organisation in the UK.

The reviews are available on both affinionprobate.co.uk and uk.trustpilot.com.