Cookies at Which? We use cookies to help improve our sites. If you continue, we'll assume that you're happy to accept our cookies. Find out more about cookies

Estate administration

By Ian Robinson

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Estate administration

Find out about the key estate administration tasks you'll need to undertake to complete the probate process.

Administration is the final stage of probate. It can only be undertaken once a grant of probate or letters of administration (if the deceased didn't have a will) have been obtained.

The process involves gathering in the assets of the estate and distributing these in line with the provisions of the will. Once probate has been granted, most institutions will release funds.                          

Good record-keeping is essential at all times, as you will need to prepare a set of accounts at the end of the process that show exactly what assets have been realised and how any costs have reduced the size of the estate.  

Key administration tasks

11.Advertise for creditors

Before you can start distributing someone's estate to the people named in their will, you need to make sure that all debts are paid off and anyone who has a claim on the estate is contacted. 

To make sure of this, you may decide to advertise for creditors and claimants, usually in The Gazette (an official record) or local newspaper. If you're using a probate solicitor, they will normally do this. If you are carrying out DIY probate it may not be necessary, depending on the estate of the deceased.

  • For advice on probate, contact Which? Legal - we offer a service that can guide you through each step

22.Transfer assets to executor’s account

In your capacity as executor, you should open a special bank account to receive the estate's assets. Some banks will let you open an executor's account straight away, while others make you wait until you have obtained a grant of probate.

Once you've obtained your grant of probate, you should send a certified copy of this to each bank or building society and request the transfer of assets. 

Similarly, you'll need to arrange the transfer of any shares or other investments.

For an article in Which? magazine, we asked recent executors to rate their experience of dealing with the bank of the deceased during the probate process. Here's what they told us:

Probate: best and worst banks
  Staff helpfulness Speed Overall satisfactiona
Lloyds Bank (104) (33) 76%
Nationwide (50) 74%
Halifax (32) n/ab 72%
NatWest (69) 70%
Santander (63) 68%
Barclays (79) 67%
HSBC (62) 63%

Table notes: Survey of 583 Which? members in November 2016. who'd acted as am executor in the previous two years. a Shows the proportion of executors satisfied with their bank, dealing with the probate process. Sample size in brackets. b Too few responses to give a rating.  

 

33.Sell property

If the deceased's estate includes property, this will need to be sold or transferred to beneficiaries according to the will. If you're planning to sell the property, you'll need to pay extra fees for conveyancing.

If a solicitor is handling probate, the same firm will normally do the conveyancing, too. DIY executors can use conveyancing specialists and may be able to negotiate lower fees. They may also be able to arrange a 'no sale, no fee' agreement.

44.Prepare and finalise estate accounts

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

55.Distribute estate to beneficiaries

You'll need to do this in accordance with the provisions of the will, after notifying the beneficiaries and sending them a copy of the accounts. You should obtain a signed approval slip from each one.

Probate records

Make sure you keep the estate accounts and supporting paperwork for at least 12 years after distribution, as this is the limitation period for anyone who may have a claim on the estate.

  • Last updated: January 2017
  • Updated by: Tom Wilson

Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.