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Estate administration

Find out about the steps you’ll need to take during estate administration, the final stage of probate.

Once you’ve obtained a grant of probate (or letters of administration if the person didn’t have a will), you can begin the final stage of probate, known as estate administration.

This is the part of the process where you gather together all of the person’s assets and belongings, pay any outstanding debts they may have had, and begin distributing what’s left over to the beneficiaries as specified in the will. If the person didn’t leave a will, the estate will need to be distributed according to the rules of intestacy

Keeping a record of every stage of the estate administration process is vital. You should keep proof of everything, showing what assets have been released and any debts paid that have reduced the size of the estate.

You’ll need to keep hold of these records for 12 years after the assets have been distributed (this is the period in which someone can still make a claim on the estate).

Want one-to-one, expert help with probate?

Which? Legal Probate can guide you through each stage of the probate process, with a comprehensive probate pack and trained legal specialists on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Find out how Which? Legal probate works 

There are five key things you need to do as part of estate administration:

1. Advertise for creditors

The first thing to do, before you start giving out any of the person’s assets or belongings, is to ensure any debts have been cleared and anyone who has a claim on the estate has been contacted.

One way to do this is to advertise for any creditors or claimants in a local newspaper or the London Gazette. If you’re using a probate solicitor, they will often do this for you. If you’re carrying out DIY probate, it may not be necessary, depending on the estate and circumstances of the person who has died.

2. Transfer assets to executor’s account

You’ll need to open an executor’s account for any funds released to be transferred into. Some banks will let you do this straightaway, while others will ask for a grant of probate first.

Once you’ve obtained a grant of probate, you’ll need to send a certified copy to each bank and building society where the person held an account, requesting a transfer of assets. You’ll also need to do this for any shares or investments they had.

3. Sell property

If the person’s estate included property, this will need to be sold or transferred to the beneficiaries, as directed in the will.

You’ll need to factor in conveyancing fees if you do need to sell the property. If you’re using a probate solicitor, they will often carry out the conveyancing for you. If you’re carrying out probate yourself, you should choose a conveyancer or solicitor offering a no-sale, no-fee agreement.

4. Prepare and finalise estate accounts

These should show the assets gathered in, money paid out and the final sum to be paid to the beneficiaries.

5. Distribute estate to beneficiaries

You’ll need to send each beneficiary a notification detailing what they’re due to inherit and a copy of the estate accounts. You should ask for a signed approval slip from each person, and keep these as part of your records. Once this has been done, you can begin distributing the assets in accordance with the will.

  • You can find more detailed guidance on all of the above steps in the Which? Legal Probate pack. If you sign up for the service, you can also access one-to-one advice from a legal expert throughout the entire probate process.

Customer feedback

  • Probate is a complex subject & I wish to ensure I provide accurate information. It's reassuring to know help is on hand

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  • Sally was extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I was very impressed a booked call time with a probate specialist could be arranged so quickly. I am looking forward to my conversation with the Probate expert on Friday.

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