July 4th, 2016
Template – probate file index
While every attempt will be made to ensure that information provided is accurate at the time of publication, it should be treated as guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Tax law and guidance changes frequently and readers are advised to consult the current relevant product for the most up-to-date information on this topic.
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The administration of an estate can generate a huge amount of documentation. Obviously, the amount of paperwork varies according to the complexity and range of assets, liabilities and beneficiaries. Nevertheless it is advisable to adopt a consistent outline structure for record keeping which can be applied to each estate.
Unless the estate is very simple indeed, it is not advisable to just file documents and correspondence in date order. You will need to refer to documents throughout the administration, and they will become increasingly difficult to find if the file is not organised in a segmented way. The aim is to keep all the documents on a particular asset or liability together, so that the 'story' for each asset etc. is quickly ascertained at any point, particularly when it comes to preparing the estate accounts.
See below for a suggested organisation of the probate file or access an Excel version of the index, which can be downloaded and amended as required.
Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, each section heading could represent a divided part of the file or a separate sub-file.
|File Notes||Internal office notes and reminders, meeting notes, primary contacts, progress checklists|
|General correspondence||Correspondence with executors, solicitors, beneficiaries|
|Engagement||Engagement letter, fee estimates, invoices, time records|
|Probate papers||Death certificate, copy Will, Oath for executors/ administrators, Grant of Probate , Deed of Variation.|
|Inheritance Tax||IHT 400 or IHT205, calculations and assessments, corrective acs, correspondence with HMRC|
|Estate accounts||Accounting schedules, copies client ledger, interim and final accounts|
|Property||Valuations, title deeds, correspondence with estate agent, conveyancer, financial records|
|Banks, Building Societies||Sub-section for each institution/account. Valuations, correspondence with banks, closing statements|
|National Savings||Valuations, correspondence with NS&I, closing statements|
|Insurance policies||Valuations, policy documents, correspondence with insurance cos., closing statements|
|Stocks and shares||Valuations, correspondence with stockbrokers, wealth managers, company registrars, contract notes, statements|
|Chattels||Valuations, auctioneers sales lists, receipts, correspondence|
|Pensions||Correspondence with pension providers, DWP|
|Other assets||Documentation re business interests, debtors, other estates or trusts|
LIABILITIES & EXPENSES
|Funeral and dod liabilities||Invoices, estimates, receipts and correspondence on funeral and liabilities at date of death|
|Domestic expenses||Invoices and correspondence re utilities, council tax, insurance, maintenance and staff costs.|
|Administration expenses||Invoices and correspondence on statutory notices, other professional fees, and expenses during admin period.|
|Income Tax and CGT||Pre and post death tax returns, calculations, correspondence|
|Legacies||Correspondence and receipts for each legatee|
|Distribution of residue||Distribution of residue, arranged by beneficiary: appropriations, payments on account, correspondence, receipts|