Anyone responsible for dealing with the estate is known as a 'personal representative'.
- If there's a will, this is anyone named as an 'executor'.
- If there's no will, this is the immediate next of kin (refer to step 3 'Obtaining the Will')
What a personal representative has to do
- Make an inventory of everything in the estate and work out the total value.
- Calculate and settle any inheritance tax and other tax liabilities.
- Apply for Probate, if required.
- Collect all assets (such as shares and investments) and settle any debts, including mortgages and loans.
- Sell any property or investments that the will doesn't specifically transfer to someone else.
- Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
If the deceased only held accounts in joint names with someone else and Probate isn't needed, the personal representative may be able to deal with everything in a few weeks. On the other hand, if Probate is needed, or if the person owned property, this process can take some time.
The personal representative's options
If you are the personal representative, you can decide whether you want to:
- Deal with the estate yourself; or
- Appoint a solicitor or specialist Probate service to do some or all of it for you.
Our Bereavement Support Team can talk you through the different options available.
Doing it yourself
If you choose to deal with the estate yourself, you may find yourself receiving and paying out large sums of money and having to keep track of a stream of transactions. One way to simplify this process and keep all money separate from your own is to open a dedicated Executor Account with HSBC.
If you would like to discuss this service, or simply talk through any part of the process that is unclear, our specialist Bereavement Support Team is here to help. Call us on 0345 850 0088.
What is Grant of Probate?
Grant of Probate or ‘Probate’ (or Confirmation if you live in Scotland) is a general term used to describe the process you may need to go through to apply for the legal right to deal with an estate.
The process involves applying to the Probate Registry, who formally confirm if a will is valid or, if there is no will, check that you are legally allowed to deal with the deceased's estate. Once they are satisfied, they'll issue a legal document called the Grant of Probate, or the Grant of Letters of Administration (if there wasn't a will). This document formally names the person(s) responsible for dealing with the estate. In Scotland, both documents are known as 'Confirmation'.
Once the personal representative has received Grant of Probate, they'll need to show the legal document to banks, building societies and other organisations to prove that they have authority to deal with any assets the deceased owned.
Is Probate required?
Probate is not required where all the deceased assets are held jointly with another person and where they pass automatically to the joint owner.
Where the value of the deceased assets held in their sole name is greater than £5,000 Probate may be required. Most financial institutions have individual discretionary limits for releasing assets without seeing the legal document.
At HSBC it's important that we support you as an individual. Every case will be reviewed by one of our bereavement specialists and decisions will not be made solely on the value of the estate. If we're notified of the death by a personal representative, either during a visit to one of our branches or by calling the Bereavement Support Team direct, we'll be able to advise our requirements immediately and if we need to see Probate. If we're notified by post we will confirm all our requirements in writing.
Note: Where the deceased owned a property in their sole name Probate will always be required before it can be sold or transferred.
How to apply for Probate
To apply for Probate yourself, you need to complete some application forms and send them to your local Probate Registry Office. You can download these here or order them from the Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline on: 0300 123 1072.
In Scotland, you apply to the Sheriff Court instead of a Probate Registry Office. Click here for more information, or contact a solicitor.
Professional support with Probate applications
HSBC has not offered probate services since 2015, when we sold our probate services to Simplify Channel Ltd, who are now a part of Co-op Legal Services Ltd.
Their services include:
- Estate Administration service – professional help on everything from gathering information in order to apply for the grant of probate, to collecting assets, paying liabilities and distributing the estate
- Grant of Probate service – a fixed price for clients who wish to administer the estate, but need assistance with extracting the Grant of Probate
- Support – advice and guidance on what’s involved with estate administration
For independent advice the Money Advice Service provides information on when you could use a probate specialist. The Money Advice Service website for more information.
Depending on the value of the estate and who it is left to, you may have to pay inheritance tax. Generally, some or all of the inheritance tax must be paid before Probate is granted. This is normally paid by the personal representative, using money from the estate. It may be possible for HSBC or another bank to pay this using money held in the deceased's accounts.
If there isn't enough money available in the account to pay the inheritance tax, you can get further information from the HMRC website. This includes the current limits and ways to pay, under the following headings:
- Introduction – Inheritance tax (For current limit)
- Paying HMRC – Paying your inheritance tax bill – How to pay (For ways to pay the bill)
The personal representative is also required to settle other taxes such as income tax and National Insurance for the person who has died. Contact HMRC and they'll tell you what to do.
For more information, visit the government website page.
This is step 6 of 6 outlined on the overview page
Letting us know
Notify us online
You can inform us of a bereavement online.
Visit us in branch
Write to us
You can send documents to:
HSBC Bereavement Services
51 Saffron Road