Probate Law Executor for Mr. Harbottle’s estate

Probate Law : Executor for Mr. Harbottle’s estate

Question 1

According to British law, an estate is defined as ‘the total value of everything owned at the time of death, less any outstanding liabilities such as mortgages, overdrafts, loans and household bills’.4 The law scenario for this paper involves a Probate issue of the validity of a will and its execution. The deceased is Mr. Harbottle who has left a self-prepared will requesting execution of it from an acquaintance. For some reason, when Mr. Harbottle died, he appointed Mr. Browne as his executor instead of his daughter Jane. According to British law:” 4According to British law: “The administrator of an estate is the person or people up to a maximum of four, appointed under wills and probate law, whose authority is vested following application to the Probate Registry that deal with affairs if one should die without making a will. The equivalent position in cases where there is a will is that of ‘executor’ who is specifically appointed by the deceased in the will.” 4Mr. Harbottle left clear instructions for the distribution of his estate in the form of a handwritten will; including who he wanted to manage his estate. The fact that the document is torn does not negate the validity of it. As long as there is no other instance of a will to dispute the one Mr. Browne is in possession of, the date is not an issue either. Neither instance, Mr. Browne’s name missing the letter ‘e’ and the will failing to represent Mr. Browne’s current address, negate the validity of his appointment as executor.

To perform the task of executor for Mr. Harbottle’s estate, Mr. Browne would need to apply for a Grant of Representation or Grant of Probate to legally access and distribute Mr. Harbottle’s assets, according to the will. He must follow these steps to complete the application:

Complete a probate application form.

Complete an Inheritance Tax form.

Send off application.

Swear to an oath.

Even if Mr. Harbottle does not owe any taxes, Mr. Browne must complete the appropriate Inheritance Tax form1. According to the law, any taxes must be paid before certification: “If there is tax to pay, you normally have to pay at least some of it before a grant of representation is issued to you.”1There are different Inheritance Tax forms for different cases. Mr. Browne must choose the appropriate form. According to the law:

“Inheritance Tax is due at 40% on anything above the threshold of £325,000. If 10% of the estate is donated to charity this is reduced to 36%.” 3

At this point, the Probate administration may validate Mr. Browne’s appointment as executor, as long as no one such as his daughter Jane objects to the appointment. Mr. Browne’s address is not current on the will. However, if Mr. Browne has ever lived at the address listed in Mr. Harbottle’s will, the Probate will likely grant him the proper certification2. Also, it does not appear that anyone is in dispute over Mr. Harbottle’s election of Mr. Browne.

The courts encourage soliciting help in cases where there is property involved. Mr. Browne may seek counsel from Josie Morrison regarding Mr. Harbottle’s will; however, he is responsible for the actions taken on behalf of Mr. Harbottle’s estate. The cost of Ms. Morrison’s assistance will be paid from Mr. Harbottle’s estate, rather than by Mr. Browne. According to British Law: “For complex wills, it is not unusual for lay executors to appoint a solicitor to deal with matters on their behalf. The solicitor’s fees will usually be paid out of the net estate before distribution of the assets. They are not paid personally by the executors although they are the personal liability of the executors who are entitled to pay them from the assets of the estate.”4When he applies at Probate, he can also ask for guidance from them. Once he obtains the Grant, he must send copies of it to all of Mr. Harbottle’s creditors and debtors. This is the first step to paying any of the deceased’s debt and collecting any assets due

Mr. Browne’s primary obligations are only to pay any taxes owed and debts by Mr. Harbottle, collect from valid creditors, and locate Mr. Harbottle’s daughter to distribute his estate.“The executor or administrator has a legal responsibility to pay off debts or outstanding payments before distributing the estate. The executor or administrator can use money from the estate to pay any solicitor’s fees as part of the probate process.” 1

According to British law a beneficiary is ‘any person who stands to gain as a result of a bequest or who receives something from an estate. Most beneficiaries are specifically named however they can apply to people who are not specifically named and who can still benefit from the will.4Jane Harbottle is a sole beneficiary of her father’s estate, minus Mr. Browne’s £50,000 legacy. She is entitled to whatever remains after Mr. Harbottle’s debts are paid and any amounts owed to him are collected.

Mr. Harbottle left Mr. Brown a legacy of £50,000, which Mr. Browne does not want to claim, but rather to pass it to his gardener’s daughter, Mary Stapleton,to help with her education. Ultimately, he wants to avoid being placed in a higher tax bracket by accepting the gift. Mr. Harbottle left the legacy to Mr. Browne, not Mr. Browne’s gardener’s daughter Mary Stapleton. In order to pass the £50,000 to her, Mr, Browne would first have to receive the legacy to himself and then donate it to the gardener’s daughter, Mary Stapleton. In this fashion, coming into possession of the £50,000 should not burden his tax obligations if he does not profit from the transfer and he donates it within the same year.

The fact that Mr. Browne is an actuary is not important. Compensation for acting as executor of Mr. Harbottle’s estate is available. However, Mr. Harbottle has left him a legacy of £50,000 which he does not want to account for. So if he refuses the legacy, he is forfeiting his right to compensation. It is possible that Mr. Harbottle considered the legacy as payment to Mr. Browne for his time and effort.

Since Mr. Harbottle has a survivor, Jane Harbottle, she is entitled his estate. If Mr. Browne does not want to accept the £50,000, it should go to Mr. Harbottle’s next of kin, Jane Harbottle, not the gardener’s daughter. If Mr. Browne accepts the legacy, it is his right to give it to anyone he wants to once it is in his possession. But if he refuses the legacy, it should go to Jane Harbottle because Mary Stapleton is of no relation to Mr. Harbottle and does not deserve £50,000 of Jane’s father’s money. If Mr. Browne is extremely wealthy, let him pay for Mary’s education from his own personal funds.

Last, Mr. Browne must prepare the estate accounts and sign them along with Jane Harbottle. At this point, he should ask for help to accomplish it.

Destroying his present will or adding Harriet Reid to his will as executrix is Mr. Browne’s choice, as is forfeiting his £50000 legacy. This has nothing to do with Mr. Harbottle’s estate.


Gov.UK. “Applying for a Grant” Crown Copyright. Gov.UK. 2013. Retrieved from “Valuing the estate of someone who’s died”” Crown Copyright. Gov.UK. 2013. Retrieved from

Gov.UK. “Wills, Probate, and Inheritance: Overview”. Crown Copyright. Gov.UK. 2013. Retrieved from“The Probate Guide to the UK: The Role of Solicitors, Registries, the Courts, & You” Probate 1. 2013. Retrieved from