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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.

GENERAL

SECTIONCONTENTS
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

ASSETS

SECTIONCONTENT
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

SECTIONCONTENTS
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

DISTRIBUTION

SECTIONCONTENTS
Legacies Correspondence and receipts for each legatee
Distribution of residue  Distribution of residue, arranged by beneficiary: appropriations, payments on account, correspondence, receipts

Click here to access an Excel version of the index, which can be downloaded and amended as required.