How to value the debts of an estate for probate

When someone dies one of the most important tasks of executors (called 'administrators', if there isn't a Will) is to list the assets and debts of the deceased.

It's vital to get in writing the value of all the assets and debts as at the time of death, as this information must be provided on the probate (or confirmation) forms.

Checklist of debts that will often occur

To help you itemise the debts, here is a checklist of some of the debts the deceased might owe.

  • Water rates
  • Telecoms bill
  • Subscription TV bill
  • Electricity bill
  • Gas bill
  • Loan or overdraft
  • Credit card bills
  • Mail-order catalogue bill
  • Rent arrears
  • Hire purchase payments
  • Debts owed by the deceased to other individuals
  • Council Tax
  • Outstanding Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax

Reasonable funeral expenses are also counted as a liability of the estate, including the cost of a gravestone.

If the person arranging the funeral is in receipt of Income Support, Tax Credits or Housing Benefit, they may be able to apply to the Social Fund (a loan-type scheme administered by the Benefits Agency) for a payment to cover reasonable funeral expenses. 

However, the cost is repaid out of the estate if money subsequently becomes available.

What next?

Once you have listed the assets and debts of the estate, review them. Find out if you need to apply for a grant of probate or confirmation? 

Before applying for a grant of probate or confirmation, any Inheritance Tax due must be paid.

If the estate appears to be insolvent or there are other complexities, do seek professional advice.

Paying debts

If necessary, it's generally possible to request a delay in the payment of debts until the grant has been obtained and funds are available. 

Executors don't have to pay them out of their own income or savings.

Expert probate advice

For further information and expert guidance on valuing the assets and debts of an estate for probate, read Lawpack's DIY Probate Kit, or call the Probate Advice Line for free with no obligation.


Other information


External links


Published on: June 12, 2012

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