CONFIRMATION / PROBATE IN SCOTLAND
CONFIRMATION / PROBATE IN SCOTLAND
A solicitor can help with the administration of an estate to:
Complete all court papers and tax returns on behalf of the executor.
Deal with the paperwork required by banks, pension companies and creditors.
Help with the transfer or sale of the deceased’s property and/or shares.
Provide peace of mind that everything has been done legally and transparently.
When a friend, colleague or family member passes away, it can be both daunting and overwhelming for the next-of-kin to deal with the daily tasks of administering the estate in accordance with the laws of Scotland. This can be an even more exhausting and time-consuming task if the person who has died did not make a will during their lifetime.
If you find yourself in the situation where you are dealing with a deceased’s estate, it is essential that you are made aware of your rights and responsibilities as executor of the estate. Without legal guidance, you run the risk of a claim against you – by a disappointed beneficiary or even HM Revenue & Customs.
By instructing a solicitor, not only will you have the comfort of knowing what is expected of you as executor, you can share the burden (or off-load this entirely) with the solicitor – who will deal with all the paperwork and court procedures on your behalf.
If you decide to administer the estate yourself, it is worth bearing in mind the following:
If there is no will, you must apply to the court to be executor
Unless you are named in the deceased’s will, you do not have the automatic right to act as executor of the estate unless you have petitioned the sheriff court nearest to the deceased’s home address. There are strict rules for such a petition, and in many cases you will be expected to obtain an insurance policy (known as a bond of caution) before the sheriff court will entertain your application.
Where the deceased owned a property, you will need to see the title deeds
This is critically important, since it is often the case that the deceased’s house is the most valuable asset in their estate. The title deeds may be held by a solicitor or the mortgage company. If you are having difficulty tracing the whereabouts of the title deeds, you can obtain electronic copies within a few days via the Registers of Scotland website. A thorough examination of the title deeds and the nature of the deceased’s ownership of the property is essential.
Obtaining confirmation requires attention to detail
If you have been asked by a bank or third party to provide confirmation (also known as probate or letters of administration in England and Wales), this means that you will need to complete and submit a set of official forms that detail the deceased’s assets, personal circumstances and those of the executor(s). The confirmation document contains an inventory, which must be populated to include all assets forming part of the deceased’s estate. In some cases, assets such as insurance policies written into trust or an employer’s death in service benefits may not form part of the estate, so it is important that you are able to distinguish estate from non-estate assets.
You will need to contact all potential beneficiaries
As executor, you have a responsibility to account to all potential beneficiaries of the estate. This means that all children (including formally-adopted children but excluding stepchildren) must be contacted following the death to inform them of their right to make a claim on the estate – even where the deceased’s will states otherwise. The law of Scotland allows all children of a deceased parent the right to claim on the estate, and this right does not extinguish until 20 years following the death. If, during that time, the executor has not provided the potential claimant with their entitlement, the executor may be personally sued by the claimant for the amount they were due from the estate.
You must keep accurate and transparent financial accounts
For the sheriff court and HM Revenue & Customs’ purposes, you will need to obtain the date of death valuations of the deceased’s assets. For complete accounting, you must also ingather the final values of these estate items, together with all interest that may have accrued. Once the legal protocols have been followed to conclusion, the executor must produce a final estate account – showing the amounts received, tax due, professional fees paid, liabilities deducted and amounts to be distributed. This account can be requested by third parties so you are advised to ensure full and diligent accounting.
PROBATE IN SCOTLAND
We will guide you through the entire estate administration process and provide you with a fixed-fee quote for any legal work that may be needed. There is no cost for general advice over the telephone or via email. No matter where you are in Scotland, we will provide you with immediate practical help with the next steps after a death.