Experts in probate and estate administration, supporting clients across the country from offices in Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, and London. Please don’t hesitate to contact us without obligation for advice, support, and to discuss our services.
Your Local Probate Lawyers
When someone dies, whether or not it’s expected, the details surrounding their probate and estate administration, the value of the estate, and other financial decisions can make it very difficult for those left behind to know what to do.
As Probate solicitors, we offer the professional services that you need, when you need them – allowing you to deal with the personal impact of your loss.
The work of a Probate Solicitor
A Probate solicitors job is to handle the affairs of a deceased person’s estate on behalf of their beneficiaries, most often the family, who have been left behind.
If there’s a valid Will in existence then the Executors named in that Will are immediately appointed to deal with the estate. if you are unable to confirm the existence and whereabouts of a valid Will, our team of solicitors can also advise on the next steps to follow, whether that be finding an existing Will or proceeding without one.
If there’s no valid Will in existence then the Rules of Intestacy* determine who can be appointed as the Administrators of the estate and how the estate is to be distributed.
*The rules of intestacy see a deceased individual’s estate divided between their relatives in a certain order. In almost all cases a spouse or civil partner will inherit the main bulk of the estate and its worth, with the remaining being distributed to other family members according to the intestacy process
The Role of a Will’s Executor or Administrator
If you are named in a person’s Will as the executor or administrator for their estate, then you need to decide whether or not you want to proceed on your own or engage the services of a probate professional in handling the administration of the estate. Generally, the most complex the estate and its details, the greater the benefit in engaging professional probate services.
Being an Executor or an Administrator can be a technically and emotionally challenging role. Executors and Administrators are personally liable for administering the estate correctly, so getting good professional legal advice is often the most sensible step towards protect against personal liability.
A more complex estate – for example one involving business interests, property holdings, investments, foreign assets and questions of residence and domicile – will require more specialist advice from solicitors as well as perhaps as accountants, valuers, financial advisers and other professionals.
Even after someone’s death, the decisions that Executors or Administrators make can have a dramatic impact on the tax payable on the estate, so getting the right legal and tax advice at this time might make a huge difference to the beneficiaries.
Every Executor or Administrator can instruct a solicitor of their choice to assist them with the estate administration. Legal fees are then settled by the deceased’s estate on the agreed terms.
We’re always happy to provide guidance by telephone or in person, to discuss how we can help; the options that are available and what your next steps should be.
We hold a great deal of experience as probate solicitors, assisting clients during the most challenging of times. from advising on the administration of smaller estates through to covering more complex estates and Wills trusts. We operate under the highest levels of care and discretion.
Call 0330 912 8338 to have a chat with our expert Estate Administration Team. They’ll be happy to talk through the process with you, explain what we do, and answer any questions you have. There’s no obligation.
Or email Nicola Clayton on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicola is a Partner and she’ll be happy to help.
1. First Meeting
We’ll meet with you (ideally in person, but this can also be done by phone, Zoom, Teams or Skype call) to gain a preliminary understanding of the estate and its current status – including detail about the individual assets, the size of the estate, any tax implications, and the existence of Wills.
Following this we will write to you with a summary of the estate position as we understand it, and detailed costs information so that you know what to expect later down the line.
During this initial meeting, we will be looking for detailed information on:
- Your connection with the estate;
- Any named executors and beneficiaries;
- The existence, or not, of a Will and its location;
- The assets and liabilities of the estate;
- Any possible claims against the estate;
- Overall Inheritance Tax position;
- The extent of the assistance you require from us.
2. Costs proposal and Confirmation of Instructions
We’ll then write to you to confirm our proposed costs for dealing with the agreed scope of your instructions – whether as a fixed fee or as a percentage of the final estate value.
On your confirmation, our work begins and we will step in to deal with ascertaining the estate valuations, tax considerations, and the application for grant of probate which will place the legal authority for administering the estate firmly in the hands of the named executor(s) or administrator(s).
3. Preliminary Stages
The steps Leading to application for the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration)
The main bulk of our probate services see us carry out the necessary calculations and research to create a grant of probate application on your behalf.
Contrary to popular belief, when someone dies the named executor does not automatically have the legal right to start distributing the estate – they need to apply for a grant of probate first unless the estate is very low in value.
Obtaining a grant of probate is the process through which the executor or administrator of a applies to be appointed by the court to manage the estate in full, legally, on behalf of the deceased – carrying out the wishes outlined in their Will and distributing the estate up as specified. If no Will exists no executor is named, so you must apply for Letters of Administration by which the court appoints administrators to administer the estate according to the laws of intestacy.
As part of a grant of probate or letters of administration application we shall:
- Locate a valid Will, or establish intestacy to confirm the lack of a formal Will;
- Identify the executors or administrators and beneficiaries;
- Inform all relevant agencies (HMRC, DWP, Insurers etc);
- Obtain full details of the estate’s assets and liabilities, including any lifetime gifts made by the deceased;
- Organise any necessary valuations;
- Liaise with all parties to collate relevant documents and information relating to the estate.
- Calculate and provide advice on Inheritance Tax liability and reliefs and strategies available to mitigate liability;
- Provide advice on funding the payment of Inheritance Tax to HMRC;
- Prepare the application for Grant, complete and submit relevant HMRC forms;
- Submit the application for the Grant on your behalf.
4. Administration of the Estate
As a broad guide you can expect the grant of probate or letters of administration application process to last between three and six months for straightforward estate and longer for a more complex estate, with various factors impacting the timeline – including the extent and nature of assets and liabilities, contents of a Will, tax arrangements and so on. When we have a clearer understanding of the scope of the estate and requirements for its administration we can give you more accurate guidance on the timescale.
Once the Grant has been issued by the Court, we shall:
- Collect in the assets of the estate;
- Coordinate the sale of assets as appropriate;
- Organise payment of the debts and liabilities including any outstanding Inheritance Tax;
- Prepare interim Estate Accounts as appropriate;
- Arrange necessary tax returns to HMRC and payment of any Income and Capital Gains taxes due;
- Finalise Inheritance Tax position with HMRC;
- Prepare final Estate Accounts;
- Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
Do I need a Grant of Probate?
A grant of probate is often required when someone dies. It involves the executor or named administrator of the estate applying for a grant which enables them to hold legal responsibility for the execution and management of the will and estate.
If someone dies without owning any real estate, significant shares, or assets worth more than around £15,000 (and sometimes more depending on what this comprises), it may not be necessary for their beneficiaries to obtain a grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if there’s no Will). This can save the expense of going through this process. If you think this applies to your circumstances and would like to ask our Estate Administration team any questions, please don’t hesitate to call on 01284 767766. If we can help point you in the right direction and you don’t need us to deal with anything for you, we’re more than happy.
What's the difference between a Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration?
A grant of probate can be applied for by a named executor of the deceased individual’s Will.
Letters of administration must be applied for in cases where there is no written Will and someone, usually a family member, must apply for permission to manage the estate.
Do I have to use a lawyer?
Typically, clients engage the work and support of solicitors at trying times, when the demands of the administration and paperwork outweigh their capacity to cope while also grieving. Not only does working with a lawyer make the process easier but we also commit to keeping our clients in the loop and informed of every decision and detail.
Frequently probate solicitors will be engaged where there are assets to be realised, multiple beneficiaries, inheritance tax to pay and in more complex cases. The main benefit of a lawyer’s support being their specialist knowledge and expertise to ensure the correctness and efficiency with which the process will be carried out no matter how challenging the situation. If you decide to proceed without a lawyer then you will need to be confident in managing:
- A probate application form and supporting paperwork requirements
- The calculation of the total estate value, including tax and individual assets
- The calculation payment of inheritance and capital gains tax due while using any allowances and mitigation measures available
- Recording, accounting for and distributing the estate
Our probate specialists will provide specific tailored advice according to the situation, processing legal documents, and ensuring that HMRC’s tax requirements are all met.
Can I deal with it and just get advice when I need it?
There are plenty of resources online which offer support and guidance to making a probate application – however, as the process deals with the complexities of managing and valuing a person’s estate, it is recommended that you seek advice during each step of the process. If you prefer to make the application yourself, our team will be happy to provide advice and assistance in the background when needed.
Although working with a solicitor or legal team comes at a cost, the benefit of professional advice lies in us relieving you of the burden and quite possibly saving expense to the estate of many times the cost of legal fees. To make the process as easy as possible for our clients, our team can offer advice and support at any stage of the probate application and process as required. Simply get in touch with us for more information on how we can help you.
What if it’s complicated?
The process of managing an estate, from establishing its value to carrying out the wishes outlined in a Will, applying for a grant, and ensuring the tax requirements are dealt with accordingly, can be complex. The right legal team can support you in all aspects of the process, helping you to track down a Will or proceed under intestacy if no Will exists.
How we can help you
Our team of expert professionals and probate specialists cover everything from the details of a Will to the grant of probate application and beyond. Our job is to make your life easier at a time when grief can be overwhelming – and our team operate with the upmost discretion every step of the way.
Let our team of local solicitors help you as you navigate this challenging and emotional time.
Further Information and Price Guide
Additional information on the probate process and costs involved.
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Still Need Help?
Call 01284 767766 to speak directly to our expert Probate Team. They’ll be happy to talk through the process with you, explain what we do, and answer any questions or concerns you have. At this early stage in the process, there is no obligation – we are simply here to help and offer advice that best works for you.