The death of a relative or close friend can often be a stressful and emotional time. Our team can guide you through the steps that need to be taken following death. We offer a personal and professional service, and will avoid and/or explain the wide range of legal jargon that often becomes involved with probate matters. We have been accredited by the Law Society with Wills & Inheritance Quality scheme membership.
Probate is the name given to the process by which the personal representatives of the deceased gain the legal right to deal with the deceased's property and assets (often known as their estate), either in accordance with a will or the intestacy rules.
Before probate can be granted, the first step is for Inheritance Tax to be paid or agreed with HMRC. Our solicitors are experienced at dealing with Inheritance Tax, and can advise on strategies to avoid paying more than necessary. In the vast majority of cases an application will then be made to the Probate Registry. The exact process depends to a large extent on whether the deceased left a valid will. There are three grants which can be obtained:
Grant of Probate - this is the most simple grant, and is required if the person applying has been named as an executor in a valid Will.
Grant of Letters of Administration - this is required if the person died without making a Will.
Grant of Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed - this is required when the deceased made a Will but that Will has not appointed an executor willing to so act.
Once Probate has been granted the deceased's executor(s) will be able to distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. The complexity of this task can vary, depending on the size of the deceased's estate and any potential challenges made under the Inheritance Act (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
If the deceased did not make a Will then the deceased’s Personal Representatives (known as Administrators in this situation) will need to distribute the deceased’s estate in accordance with the Intestacy rules.
We are able to provide expert advice on all of the above issues and our charges will be based purely on the time we spend on your case so we can tailor make the level of service depending on your needs and budget. For a straightforward estate, we estimate 15 hours' work capped at £2,500 plus VAT and disbursements. The likely disbursement is a court fee of £155. The service will include gathering full details of the deceased's assets and liabilities, considering how the estate should be distributed, preparing the relevant tax forms and grant application, preparing estate accounts and arranging distribution to all beneficiaries. The cost of any necessary conveyancing transactions would be an additional cost.