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Probate Valuations

Introduction: What is Probate?

Probate is the term for the legal process that needs to be undertaken when a person dies. Under the law in England and Wales, it is essential that the total value of that person’s estate – their assets at the time of death – is calculated and agreed before those assets can be distributed according to their last will and testament.

It is, therefore, necessary to arrive at a valuation of their property for probate purposes. For this purpose, it is advisable to employ the services of an experienced and knowledgeable chartered surveyor and registered valuer to assist with this process.
The complexity of any probate process will depend on the state in which the person who has died has left their affairs. But in even the most apparently straightforward cases, when all the deceased’s paperwork is clear and organised, there are a variety of factors to take into account.  

Probate is important because the property, possessions and money belonging to the person who has died may not be claimed, sold or distributed until probate has been granted.

Only when a Grant of Probate has been issued – or Letters of Administration in the case of someone who dies without leaving a will – can that distribution take place.

The probate process is usually handled by the executors named in the deceased person’s will. If the deceased did not leave a will, administrators are appointed to oversee the distribution of their property.

Commercial Property Valuation for Probate

The first phase of any probate process is the most important. This is when everything owned by the person who has died is assessed and valued.

If the person who died was a business owner, there will need to be a commercial property valuation for probate. This will include the value of any business premises and any associated items such as the contents of the commercial site and other goods such as company cars.

It is highly advisable that this process is carried out accurately by an experienced professional, such as a chartered surveyor or registered valuer. These individuals have extensive expertise in assessing both what needs to be included and their worth at the time of death, to arrive at a definitive commercial valuation for probate.

House Valuation for Probate

For most people, their most valuable possession is their home. It is, therefore, likely that a large proportion of the total of their estate will be made up of the value of their residence.

Obtaining an accurate and trustworthy house valuation for probate is, as a consequence, an extremely important part of the process.
An experienced registered valuer will be able to use their knowledge of the property market and local conditions to calculate the worth of the house at the time when its owner died.

They will also be able to assess the value of the house contents, including any particularly valuable items such as jewellery, antiques and electronic equipment.

The home and all its contents need to be valued so that a final figure can be included in the probate documentation relating to the deceased’s estate.

Why Probate is important

There are two principal reasons why it is essential to seek a Grant of Probate in the aftermath of a person dying. The first is that until this is done, the executors of a person’s will may not distribute any money or possessions from the estate. You are not allowed to complete the sale of the deceased’s home, for instance, until probate is granted.

The second reason is that it is only when probate has been granted that HMRC can ascertain whether or not any Inheritance Tax needs to be paid by the executors of the estate. This will depend on the value of the estate, any allowances that may be applied and the number of beneficiaries between whom the proceeds of the estate are to be divided.  

Appointing a Professional Valuer 

Since 2017, it has been lawful for executors of an estate to apply for a Grant of Probate online. Although the intention was to streamline the process, all too often people have made errors on their application form, leading to delays in the process.  
If you have lost a partner or parent, attempting to apply for probate adds extra stress, complication and anxiety at what is already an extremely upsetting time.

Using the services of an experienced chartered surveyor and registered valuer to arrive at a valuation of property for probate purposes is, therefore, an advisable move to make.

HMRC is much more likely to investigate an application, and challenge its valuation, if it has not been prepared and submitted by a trained professional. If a professional property valuer has carried out the valuation, HMRC will normally accept it without a challenge.
Copping Joyce Solicitors has all the experience and expertise required to carry out comprehensive valuations for tax purposes. We include detailed descriptions, photographs and our methodology to help HMRC to accept the figures recorded – and make the probate process as smooth as anyone could want it to be.

Frequently Asked Questions 
The legal process by which the possessions of someone who has died are dealt with and valued. The executors named in that person’s will need probate to be granted before they can carry out the wishes of the person as expressed in the will.
Until and unless probate has been granted, the executors will not be able to distribute the deceased’s property and money to their beneficiaries.
This is levied on all estates and applies over a certain threshold once certain allowances have been taken into account.  
If a person dies intestate – without leaving a will – their possessions and money are distributed by administrators according to laws commonly known as the Rules of Intestacy. For obvious reasons, this can lead to some confusion and conflict when it comes to deciding who receives what from the estate.
Yes, but please be aware this is a complicated process to undertake at a time when you may be suffering grief and bereavement. You are far more likely to achieve an accurate valuation of your loved one’s estate by using a professional chartered surveyor or registered valuer such as Copping Joyce Surveyors.
- Initial advice and inspection of the property
- Reporting the market value on the date in question
- Negotiation with HMRC if any queries arise – this could incur additional costs