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Probate and Estate Administration

Probate is the document which shows that the Probate Court has confirmed that the Will is valid and confirms the authority of the Executors to act.

We can help you with the process which is briefly explained below. The forms can be quite complicated and our job is to make it all as easy as possible. Being an Executor is a heavy responsibility and is full of traps and pitfalls for the unwary. Our job is to lighten your load and advise you about any pitfalls you might not be aware of, and tell you the best way to deal with any issues that arise.

For details of our fixed fee Probate Service please see here.

On a person’s death their Executors have a duty to establish the values of all the assets and liabilities in the estate, and they then in most estates have to apply for a Grant of Probate to the Probate Court. In many estates it is not necessary to complete the long tax form IHT400, but instead the short tax form IHT205 is sufficient. The Executors will also need to complete an Oath for Executors, and if they are making a personal application instead of through Solicitors there are additional forms that they will need to complete.

Once the Grant of Probate is obtained the Executors can then collect in all the assets due to the estate and distribute them to the beneficiaries. Sometimes assets are realised, and sometimes they are simply transferred to the beneficiaries if that is possible.

If the estate has to pay inheritance then tax has to be paid at the time the IHT 400 is sent to H.M. Revenue & Customs, but sometimes not all the tax has to be found at the application stage.

Estate Administration

Acting as an Executor can be time consuming and complicated and can involve a considerable amount of work. Sometimes clients appoint us to act as executors, and on other occasions Executors will ask us to act on their behalf in dealing with an estate.

We can do as much or as little work as you want. In non tax paying estates we can obtain the Grant of Probate for the Executors and then leave them to administer the estate if that is what they want.

On other occasions our Executor clients will bring suitcases full of papers belonging to the person who has died which we have to sort out and we can deal with absolutely everything if that is what our clients want.

Please see details of our Estate Adminstration Prices here.

All of our specialist lawyers within the department are fully accredited members of Solicitors for the Elderly.

Intestacy Rules

If a person dies without making a Will they are what is known as intestate.

The law provides a set of rules for how a person’s estate should be divided up if they die without a Will and we can advise you on these rules.

If you are not sure about exactly what family the person who died had, then we can work with genealogists to make the necessary enquiries so that you can be quite sure the estate is distributed in the proper way.

Where there is an intestacy, instead of obtaining a Grant of Probate the person entitled has to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Unlike Probate where the authority of the Executors originally comes from the Will, the authority of an Administrator comes from the Grant of Letters of Administration.

Where there are several people who have an equal right to deal with the administration of the estate of somebody who has died, then it is the first person who applies for the Grant of Letters of Administration who becomes the person legally entitled to deal with it. For example, if a person dies leaving no husband or wife and four children, then any one or more of the children can apply for the Grant of Letters of Administration.

Frequently asked questions about Probate & Estate Administration

Select a question from the list below and click on it to reveal the answer:

Q How long will it take to wind up the estate?

A. This depends on how complicated the estate is. However, most of the non complex estates we deal with are wound up between 6 and 12 months after the person has died. We always provide an estimate of how long it will take to wind up the estate you have asked us to deal with.

Q Is it always necessary to get a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?

A. No it is not – it depends on what assets were in the estate of the person who has died and if it is not necessary we will tell you so right at the beginning.

Q What happens if there is no Will?

A. The law sets out rules about which family members should inherit if there is no Will. See intestacy rules.

Q How do I pay inheritance tax?

A. It is not normally a problem. See our frequently asked questions about inheritance tax.

Q I am a beneficiary of an estate but I am not happy about how the Executor is dealing with it. What can I do?

A. Executors have legal duties to administer an estate in a proper and prompt manner. We specialise in advising on disputes over Wills and inheritance and please look at that section of our website.