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What is an estate?

An estate is everything your loved one owned. This includes property, money in their financial accounts (eg. bank, building society, pension pot) and possessions.

First, you need to value the money and all financial assets they owned

You might have already contacted all the financial organisations your loved one held accounts with. Just as a reminder, organisations to contact often include:

Ask each of the organisations for a statement of the value of the assets and any debts held by the deceased. If they had a mortgage, ask their mortgage lender if they require payments to continue while you are completing the probate process.

Make a list of all the information you receive from the financial account providers. Include any lump sums from pensions or life insurance.

Then, you will need to consider any gifts made by the person who has died, which took place within the 7 years prior to their death.

Any gifts which totalled less than £3,000 in any year are exempt, as are any gifts made to charity or to a spouse or civil partner.  There are some other exemptions which apply to smaller gifts for weddings or special occasions, and where the gifts have been made out of surplus income.  If you have any doubt, you should seek professional advice.

Next, value your loved one’s possessions

Add these figures together for an estimation of the total value of the estate for probate or letter of administration.

Feeling a bit stuck?

We understand that calculating the value of an estate for probate is complicated. Although this guide will help you, others have said that using a solicitor takes away the pressure of dealing with estate laws and wills. Take a look at our trusted solicitor partners.

Next Step: Do I need to pay Inheritance Tax?