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When a person dies, they leave behind an entire life’s worth of money, property, benefits, and liabilities which must be sorted out.
We understand that administering a deceased loved one’s estate is a daunting task, particularly since you will be grieving their loss. Our solicitors, who are skilled in handling wills and probate, are on hand to take the weight off your shoulders as much as possible; using our legal expertise to make the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible.
The estate administration process differs depending on whether the deceased left a will or not. We can provide clear, uncomplicated advice in both scenarios, enabling you to make confident decisions about how the administration is conducted.
We also provide advice in relation to disputed wills and contentious probate matters. The vast majority of estate administrations progress efficiently without any issues. However, where disagreements do arise, for example over inheritance, grief and concern over losing what they think they’re entitled to can cause rifts between family members. We approach such issues calmly but practically, taking all necessary steps to resolve the matter harmoniously through negotiation and alternative dispute resolution.
For more information about our estate administration services, please get in touch with our wills and probate solicitors at your local branch in Nottingham, Peterborough, Spalding, Alconbury or Birmingham.
Our wills and probate solicitors’ estate administration expertise
Our wills and probate solicitors have extensive experience helping clients administer the estate of their deceased loved one, including:
- Applying to the Probate Registry for Grants of Representation (either a Grant of Probate if there is a will or Letters of Administration if there is no will)
- Providing detailed and understandable advice about the role and duties of an Executor or Administrator
- Conducting every aspect of the probate process, including gathering financial information, paying Inheritance Tax, and ensuring the Beneficiaries receive their inheritance
- Addressing any disputes about the will or administration process
What is probate?
Although the terms probate and estate administration are sometimes used interchangeably, while estate administration refers to the entire process of dealing with the deceased’s money, property, and debts, probate more specifically refers to the process of obtaining legal authorisation to administer the estate.
If the deceased left a Will, then Executors will be appointed to take on the task of administering the estate – usually this will be one or two of the deceased’s close friends or family.
The executors don’t automatically have permission to start accessing the deceased’s money and property. They must first value the estate, report it to HMRC, then apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. We can assist with this, as valuing estates can be challenging, particularly if there are complex assets such as overseas property to consider.
What happens if someone doesn’t leave a will?
If the deceased did not leave a will, the process is slightly more complicated. No executors will have been appointed, so, if a close relative wants to deal with the estate, they have to apply to the Probate Registry for Letters of Administration to become an Administrator.
Once an Administrator is appointed, they have the same responsibilities to deal with the estate as an Executor. The main difference is, the identities of the Beneficiaries and how the estate is to be divided will be decided under the Rules of Intestacy rather than set out under a Will. If there are no potential Beneficiaries then the estate passes to the crown.
Do you always need probate?
You may not have to go through the probate process if:
- The estate is only made up of physical cash and personal belongings such as cars or furniture
- All property is jointly owned so it automatically passes to the surviving joint owner
- The estate is insolvent because there’s not enough money to pay the deceased’s debts or expenses
- The amount of money owned by the deceased is low enough that banks and other institutions will release it without Probate or Letters of Administration
What does the Executor or Administrator of an estate do?
The Executors or Administrators act as personal representatives for a person’s estate and are responsible for:
- Gathering all financial information and documentation belonging to the deceased
- Obtaining the death certificate and sending a copy to banks and organisations which hold money for the deceased asking for their accounts to be frozen, for a confirmation of the amount of money held at the time of death, and the amount received in the last tax year prior to the death
- Opening a bank account for the estate
- Gathering information about the debts owed by the deceased and money owed to the estate
- Preparing a schedule of all the money and property owned by the estate
- Calculating and paying Inheritance Tax
- Collecting monies from the deceased’s bank accounts, building society accounts, pensions, and insurance into the estate’s bank account
- Paying off the deceased’s debts, including settling funeral costs
- Distributing the estate amongst the Beneficiaries as set out in the Will or under the Rules of Intestacy
Do I have to be an Executor?
If you do not want to act as an Executor after being appointed under a deceased person’s Will, you can “renounce” your right to take on the role up until the Grant of Probate is granted. Alternatively, you can appoint someone else to apply for probate on your behalf under a Power of Attorney. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like further information about your options.
Why choose Roythornes’ estate administration solicitors
At Roythornes, we’ve served our local communities and businesses for over 80 years. Our biggest asset is our approachable and highly experienced team of lawyers and our only purpose is to utilise our legal knowledge to help you.
Several of our team are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), an organisation of legal professionals who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning matters, including Wills, trusts and probate, and estate administration.
In 2016, we became the first law firm in the Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire area to be awarded the Customer Service Excellence Award. We’re also accredited by the Law Society in Lexcel, the legal practice quality mark for firms with the highest quality of client care and legal practice management.
Roythornes is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).