Before you can apply for probate, you need to value the estate (property, money and possessions) of the person who has passed away. This can take a long time and you might not know where to start. In this blog we go through the process step-by-step, looking at what you can expect along the way and how to work out the value of the estate without any hiccups.\r\nHow long does it take to value an estate? \u00a0\r\nIt can take up to nine months for an estate to be valued, and for more complex estates, the process can take even longer. There isn\u2019t any rush to get this process complete, except if there is inheritance tax to pay, which is only the case if the estate is worth over \u00a3325,000.\r\nValuing the estate \r\nTo work out the value of the estate, you\u2019ll need to consider:\r\n\r\n \tValue of any assets\r\n \tValue of gifts given\r\n \tOutstanding debts\r\n\r\nValuing assets\r\nA person\u2019s assets are made up of any possessions they had at the time they passed away. This includes:\r\n\r\n \tProperty\r\n \tSavings\r\n \tPersonal belongings\r\n \tShares\r\n \tPrivate pensions\r\n\r\nProperties should be valued by an estate agent, and this can usually be done for free using either a local estate agent or an online service such as Love Your Postcode. If the estate is likely to be worth more than \u00a3325,000, it\u2019s recommended that you pay for a valuation from a Chartered Surveyor.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith personal belongings, the best way to work out their value is to start with possessions that hold a high value, such as jewellery or vehicles. HMRC recommends that any possessions with an estimated value over \u00a3500 should be valued by a professional, whereas other items such as books or clothing can be valued based on estimates from the sale prices of similar second-hand items.\r\n\r\nAny assets that are owned jointly should be valued by working out the actual value and then dividing by the number of people who own the asset, minus 10%. So for example, if a person owned a property with one other person, and it was valued at \u00a3100,000, the valuation would be:\r\n\u00a3100,000 \u00f7 2 = \u00a350,000\r\n90% of \u00a350,000 = \u00a345,000\r\nThis process works slightly differently in Scotland, with \u00a34,000 taken off the initial calculation before dividing by the number of owners. So, for the same circumstance for a property in Scotland, the valuation would be:\r\n\u00a3100,000 - \u00a34,000 = \u00a396,000\r\n\u00a396,000 \u00f7 2 = \u00a348,000\r\nDespite automatically transferring to the other account holder, this valuation process is also used to determine finances held in a joint bank account.\r\nValuing gifts\r\nGifts given away by the deceased up to seven years before their death may be liable for inheritance tax. This law is in place as it prevents people from passing on significant assets to a family member or friend shortly before their death, in a bid to avoid inheritance tax.\r\n\r\nAn annual \u2018gift allowance\u2019 of \u00a33,000 means that any gifts given up to this value won\u2019t be subject to inheritance tax, but anything over this amount will be liable. In addition, certain gifts aren\u2019t subject to inheritance tax, although they depend on a few conditions, and these include:\r\n\r\n \tGifts valued at less than \u00a3250\r\n\r\n \tExcept when given to someone already in receipt of a gift over \u00a33,000\r\n\r\n\r\n \tWedding gifts\r\n\r\n \tMust be made before the wedding\r\n \tMust be less than \u00a35,000 if given to a child\r\n \tMust be less than \u00a32,500 if given to a grandchild or great-grandchild\r\n \tMust be less than \u00a31,000 if given to another relative or friend\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOutstanding debts\r\nDebts aren\u2019t subtracted from the value of an estate, but you\u2019ll still need to tell HMRC about them when informing them of the estate\u2019s value. Typically, there are two types of debt you\u2019ll need to account for:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tLoans\r\n \tLiabilities\r\n\r\nLoans can include mortgages, credit card bills and overdrafts, while liabilities refer to money owed for services that have been delivered but not yet paid for (e.g. electricity bills).\r\nIn summary\r\nWorking out the value of an estate can be a lengthy process, but by following the proper advice and seeking advice where necessary, you can ensure that it\u2019s a relatively painless one.\r\nFor more information on executing a Will, read our handy FAQ guide for executors.