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15 February 2018
Many people do not realise what is involved in administering a person's estate until they have to do it themselves and they encounter a minefield of previously unknown terminology and complex legal procedures.
'Probate' is the term used for both the grant of probate itself and the process of applying for the right to deal with the estate of someone who has passed away. The person who administers the estate of someone who has passed away – and is named as the person to carry out the administration of the deceased's will – is called an executor. An administrator is the person appointed as the personal representative of a person who has died without either making a will or naming someone to administer their estate.
If a person has left a will and has assets in their sole name that need to be administered following their death, one of the first steps is to arrange for the will to be proved before the Royal Court of Jersey. Once the grant of probate to the will is issued, the executor can start to collect the assets of the deceased, pay their debts and make arrangements for the distribution of their assets in accordance with the terms of their will.
If the person has died without making a will, they are said to be 'intestate'. In this situation, the court will issue a grant of letters of administration to appoint an administrator to deal with the estate. This is normally the surviving spouse or eldest child, but other people can be appointed at the discretion of the probate registrar.
A grant of probate or letters of administration should be applied for if the deceased held any bank accounts, investments or other assets in their own name. You do not normally have to apply for a grant if the deceased had assets in joint names, as they often pass automatically to the surviving party – provided that there is evidence that this was the parties' intention.
The documents needed to make the relevant application to the court include:
The probate registrar may request that other documents (eg, affidavits of fact or condition of the will) are also produced.
Stamp duty must also be paid upon application for the grant at a rate of 0.5% of the value of the assets at the date of death. This is rounded up to the nearest £10,000 on estates with a value of up to £100,000. For estates with a value of over £100,000, there is a rate of £75 for each additional £10,000. There is a maximum charge of £100,000 stamp duty, which was introduced with effect from January 1 2013. The probate registrar will also charge a flat stamp duty fee of £80 on all applications. The Royal Court probate department may charge an additional fee for reviewing paperwork before an application, which varies depending on the number of papers to be reviewed but is normally at least £75.
Once issued, the grant gives the correctly appointed person the legal right to deal with the deceased person's estate. This will include:
Administering a loved one's estate can be a difficult and complicated job, but it can also be rewarding to know that their last wishes have been properly followed.
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