Probate solicitors

For all matters ranging from registering the death of a loved one to potentially more contentious issues including trusts, estate and property, call Britton & Time for a tailored, sensitive approach.
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Our probate solicitors can be as involved or as hands-off as you would like. We understand that this is a difficult time, but any discrepancy surrounding the estate of the deceased can exacerbate this unnecessarily, which is where we are able to help.

Unperturbed by having to engage in a dispute to fight for what is right, we will provide a diligent and thoughtfully executed service throughout.

Our interests lie in providing a practical approach that will ensure your wealth and inheritance is protected.

Estate Administration – Probate or Intestacy?

There are a number of important tasks that need to be completed when someone dies. If the person died leaving a valid will, then the named executors take on this responsibility.

In the absence of a valid will, the person is said to have died ‘intestate’ and the Intestacy Rules determine who can be appointed as the administrators of the estate.

Be aware that the role of executor or administrator can be an onerous one. The deceased’s estate may involve valuable or complex matters and the executor or administrator is personally liable for administering the estate correctly.

The executor(s) named in the will apply for a ‘grant of probate’. Applying for probate is the way in which the people responsible for the estate are granted the authority to deal with the assets. Every executor or administrator can instruct a solicitor of their choice to assist them with the estate administration and the legal fees are settled by the deceased’s estate.

The executor is also responsible for keeping to deadlines, paying tax and legacies, establishing the identity of all beneficiaries, issuing tax certificates and mediating between family members who disagree.

The legality of probate can be daunting, but our team has both the experience and the expertise to handle this with you and on your behalf, to remove any unnecessary financial risks and burdens, call Britton & Time Solicitors today to assist you with this complex but vital task.

The Full Administration Service

This includes start to finish administration of the estate and is especially appropriate when:

  • You are unfamiliar with the probate process or the estate in question
  • You do not have the time to devote to administering the assets
  • The value of the estate is over £300,000
  • You have concerns about beneficiaries questioning your activities as executor

If any of these apply, get in touch at your earliest convenience for a free no-obligation conversation.

The Full Administration Service includes:

  • Advice on the terms of the will
  • Collection of the relevant information about the number and location of assets and debts
  • Advice on the notices you can advertise in order to reduce your potential liability as executor/administrator
  • Identification of the correct figures and the arrangement of valuations for inheritance tax purposes
  • Completion and submission of the inheritance tax return to HMRC. Furthermore if necessary, advice on taking out an executor’s loan to cover the tax
  • Relations with HMRC in relation to any income tax or capital gains tax liability for years prior to the death and the handling of any tax liabilities that may arise during the administration
  • Relations with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure any benefits or pensions are stopped and handle any repayments
  • Relations with utility companies to obtain a final account up to the date of death, to establish where services need to be maintained, and to guide the executors on their options
  • Advice relating to the maintenance of adequate insurance cover on the deceased’s assets during the period of administration
  • The procurement of the grant of probate and letters of administration
  • The arrangement for legal notices to be advertised, if requested by the executors/administrators
  • Distribution of copies of the grant of probate/letters of administration to banks, building societies and other institutions holding money in order to obtain access to the deceased’s assets
  • The collection of assets and liquidation of there where necessary, followed by the discharging of liabilities
  • Administration of interim distributions where appropriate
  • Preparation of estate accounts and distribution of the estate

The Full Administration Service for a typical estate is £3,950 plus VAT

Factors that may alter this figure include estates where any of the following apply:

  • Valued at over £600,000
  • Include significant assets located abroad
  • Include business assets or farms
  • Include more than 10 separate holdings of shares or similar assets
  • May be liable to actual or potential claims against it
  • Any other unusual circumstances

Whatever your situation get in touch today for a professional, cost-effective way forward.

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Dealing with Probate: How your solicitor can assist you

What is probate?

Probate is the process of dealing with an estate of someone who has died. It is important that all assets at the date of death are valued and collected in; debts and liabilities are paid; any income and expenses arising from the estate are accounted for; and the estate to be distributed as inheritance under the terms of the deceased’s Will or under the Law of Intestacy.

Do I need a solicitor and why?

Although it is not a legal requirement to instruct a solicitor to deal with probate, a solicitor can help remove the stress and time in dealing with the estate. A probate solicitor at Britton and Time will make sure that the probate is dealt with in the correct manner. Probate is a very lengthy, overwhelming and time-consuming process. We can assist you to ensure that inheritance is distributed in accordance with the deceased’s wishes whilst also making sure the inheritance tax has been paid. Britton and Time solicitor can be involved in as much or as little of the administration process as you need. Our solicitors can deal with the whole estate for you if you need them to. Britton and Time solicitors will always act in your best interests and in accordance with your instructions; and will keep you fully informed on the progress.

If there was no solicitor assistance, and probate is not dealt with correctly, then an executor or personal representative may be held personally liable both legally and financially.

If the estate is large, then a solicitor will be able to advise you and assist you. You may not have the time to deal with the estate. Furthermore, you may need a solicitor if there are any claims for financial provision, probate disputes, foreign assets, bankruptcy or complex arrangements. If a claim has been made against the estate, you wish to make a claim or you are concerned with anything relating to the handling of the estate, then a solicitor will be able to advise you and represent you.

What is a probate solicitor?

A probate solicitor is a solicitor who specialises in probate law and can deal with the administration of the estate of a deceased person.

If there are no disputes or issues, then this will be non-contentious probate.

If there are issues with the validity of the Will (contest probate) or claims against the estate for financial provision, then this will be contentious probate. Your solicitor can advise you on these issues and your rights.

Preliminary Considerations

Will? As a first step, you will need to check whether the person had a Will and ensure that this was the last Will. In probate, the estate will be distributed in accordance with the Will (in accordance with the testator’s wishes). The last Will is the only Will which can be used in Probate.

If there is no Will, the rules of Intestacy will determine who will inherit the estate of the deceased.

Codicil? Sometimes, people have a codicil to supplement, modify or revoke their last Will.

Letter of Wishes? This document is not legally binding; however, it is sometimes used to explain the reasons why a testator has left their estate to certain people or has excluded their estate from certain people.

Valuation at date of death? The “probate value” at the date of death is used to calculate inheritance tax.

How much is Probate?

The legal costs for dealing with the estate of a deceased will vary depending on the size of the estate, complexity and amount of assets.

How long does Probate take?

Probate is a lengthy process and the time it will take to deal with the estate will vary depending on the size of the estate, complexity and amount of assets. It could take from 6 months to 2 years to deal with Probate. However, the average time it will take for a simple estate is 1 year.

Solicitors Fees for Probate?

The legal fees of a solicitor are usually paid out of the estate funds.

What is a Grant of Probate/Grant of Letters of Administration?

A Grant provides the authority to an executor or personal representative to deal with a deceased person’s estate (their assets, property, money, bills and liabilities).

To obtain a Grant of Probate, you will need to apply to the Probate Registry with the Death Certificate, Original Will (if applicable), Statement of Truth of the executors/personal representatives, and IHT Clearance Certificate.

The usual grants are as follows:

  1. Grant of Probate – Where there is a Will appointing an executor to deal with the estate
  2. Grant of Letters of Administration – Where there is no Will (Intestacy) or an executor under a Will is unable/unwilling to act

Grants can also be provided to other people, such as creditors.

When and why do I need a Grant?

A lot of Companies, banks, investment companies will require sight of the Grant to communicate with you regarding the deceased’s assets, to release funds; and to sell, invest or transfer assets.

If the estate is very small, you may not need a Grant.

Who would need Grant of Probate?

An executor or legal representative will need a Grant to deal with the Probate/ administration of the estate.

Who can apply for Probate?

The executor(s) in the Will of the deceased or a personal representative in accordance with the order of priority set out in the Non-Contentious Probate Rules, being the next of kin – spouse/civil partner or child. A cohabiting/long-term partner is not entitled to apply.

Who is the executor/ personal representative and what are their duties?

The executor/personal representative is responsible for the administration of the estate from valuation of assets to distribution of inheritance to beneficiaries. The executor’s duties include but are not limited to:

  1. valuing assets
  2. informing Companies of Death
  3. submitting inheritance tax returns and paying inheritance tax
  4. applying for the Grant
  5. insuring Property
  6. collecting in, selling and transferring assets
  7. paying debts and liabilities
  8. Keeping accurate records by way of estate accounts.

Executors/personal representatives often instruct solicitors to discharge their duties.

Issues relating to executors

Executors may find the probate procedure overwhelming, time-consuming and complicated. An executor named in the Will may have died before the deceased, may not be dealing with the estate properly, or may refuse to act as an executor. There is a process to take if you are an executor who does not want to deal with the estate. There is also a process a beneficiary can take to order an executor to apply for the Grant. Whatever the issue may be, we can advise you.

Delaying Probate

There are ways to delay probate, and we can advise you on this. Probate can be delayed for up to 6 months with a Caveat when there are challenges to the terms of the Will prior to the Grant of Probate. It is advisable to carry out a standing search to check whether an application for a Grant of Probate has been made. The standing search will last a period of 6 months.

Valuation of Assets

It is important to value the assets as at the date of death. You will need to value property, shares and other valuable assets.

Inheritance Tax

There are two Inheritance Tax Forms which can be used. The Inheritance Tax threshold/nil rate band is currently £325,000. The Form IHT205 can be used for excepted estates or smaller estates up to the value of £325,000. The IHT400 form is used for estates with a value of over £325,000. The IHT400 form is a long form and will include several schedules depending on the circumstances of the estate. We can help you with this form or complete the form for you. Your solicitor will know the IHT rules, exceptions, exemptions and reliefs which are available to minimise your inheritance tax liability.

Trusts

Sometimes the estate will be subject to a trust. A solicitor will be able to advise you on the purpose of the trust, responsibilities of the trustees and benefit to the beneficiaries.

What is the probate process?

Pay Inheritance Tax – Once assets are valued, inheritance tax must be calculated and paid.

Apply for a Grant– An executor/personal representative will apply to obtain a Grant for the authority to administer the deceased’s estate.

Identifying Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are entitled to their inheritance. If there is a Will, the beneficiaries will be named in the Will. If there is no Will, the Rules of Intestacy will determine who will benefit from the estate in a strict order. An executor will need to take steps to trace the beneficiaries, to avoid the risk of being made personally liable if a claim is made after the estate is distributed. Your solicitor will identify and/or trace beneficiaries and can advise you on the intestacy rules.

Assets – To identify and collect in the deceased’s assets. Some assets will need to be sold, transferred or invested. Eg. Property, money, valuables, shares, investments

We can assist you throughout the probate process. You may need to consider instructing a solicitor to:

  1. instruct an estate agent to value the property and sell it on the open market at the best possible price;
  2. instruct a conveyancer to sell or transfer the property;
  3. instruct a stockbroker to value investments;
  4. Instruct an accountant for income tax purposes; and
  5. Instruct an insurer to insure the property until it is sold.

Liabilities – To identify debtors and pay the deceased’s debts eg. Mortgage and loans

Income– To identify and collect in any income received eg. Rent on property, interest, income tax

Expenses– To pay funeral expenses, executor’s expenses, invoices for legal fees

Advertisement – to advertise for creditors in the local newspaper and law gazette

Estate Accounts – To keep a record of all assets, liabilities, income and expenses of the estate to be provided to the beneficiaries for approval

Legacies – To pay any legacies left in a Will

Beneficiaries Rights – Beneficiaries have the right to check the estate accounts and to receive their inheritance on distribution.

Distribution – Distribute the money in the estate after debts and liabilities are paid out of the assets in accordance with the Will or Intestacy. Distribution can be made on an interim basis or in full.

International Assets -If an estate includes international/foreign assets, we will be able to advise you on how they are dealt with.

Can a Will be challenged?

There are Grounds to rely on to challenge a Will. The grounds are as follows:

  1. Lack of Testamentary Capacity or Intent
  2. Lack of due execution
  3. Lack of knowledge and approval
  4. Fraud
  5. Undue Influence (coercion)
  6. Forgery
  7. Rectification and constitution of Provisions – the Will fails to carry out the testator’s intention due to a clerical error or misunderstanding of instructions

If you believe that any of the following grounds apply, then your solicitor can advise you further on how to satisfy those grounds, the strengths of your case and the evidence in support.

Can I challenge the Will?

To challenge a Will, you need to have “standing”. This means that you need to have an interest by way of family relationship, dependant, beneficiary named in the Will, eligible on intestacy or someone promised something by the deceased. You should speak to our of our solicitors urgently if you think you have a claim by contacting us on (01273)726951 or by clicking here.

Intestacy and your Inheritance

Intestacy arises when a person dies without leaving a Will. Partial Intestacy may arise when only part of the estate is disposed of.

Rules of Intestacy

The Rules of Intestacy will determine who will inherit from the estate in the absence of a Will. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on who is entitled to inherit from the estate, in which order they shall inherit and how much they shall inherit. The Rules of Intestacy predominantly provides for surviving spouses/civil partners and children of the full blood.

Survivorship

On the death of a spouse/civil partner, the surviving spouse/civil partner will inherit automatically under the Rules of Intestacy. In respect of property, if you held the property as a joint tenant, you will automatically inherit the share of your spouse. If you held the property as tenants in common, survivorship will not apply; and your spouse’s share will be distributed as part of their estate.

Re-Marriage

Remarrying will revoke a Will. The law of intestacy will apply, and the new spouse will be first to inherit from the estate. If there is a new spouse/civil partner, and you are unsure how children of a previous marriage will inherit or in which priority they will inherit, then your solicitor can advise you.

Divorce/Dissolution or New Marriage/Civil Partnership

Divorce will not revoke a Will. However, gifts to former spouses/civil partners will be void. In intestacy, a divorced spouse will not automatically inherit. If you are divorced and would like advice regarding your right to inheritance or of your children, then your solicitor can advise you.

Cohabiting Partners/Unmarried couples

If there is no Will leaving anything to the cohabiting/long-term partner, they will not automatically inherit anything. The same principle applies to long-term relationships/cohabiting and unmarried couples with children. If you were promised something, then your solicitor can advise you and/or represent you in a claim for financial provision.

Children

If there is a Will, children will inherit in accordance with the terms of the Will. In the absence of a Will, the rules of intestacy will apply. The rules of intestacy include children of the full blood, half blood and step-children. Your solicitor can advise you further.

Claims for financial provision and family provision claims

Sometimes, Will’s specifically exclude certain family members, dependants or children whom were dependent on the deceased. Sometimes loved ones are promised something which is not provided for in the Will or under Intestacy. That person may bring a family provision claim against the estate for financial provision. You may be unsure whether you have a claim and if so, how to claim or defend a claim. If you believe that you have been wrongly excluded from inheriting or wish to defend a claim against a person who is claiming inheritance, then your solicitor can advise you on whether you are eligible to bring a claim, how to proceed, the merits of your case, and will represent you. A claim can be made on the basis that under the terms of the Will or under Intestacy, a person who depended on the deceased, has not received reasonable provision. Disputes between family members over inheritance can cause a lot of stress and heightened emotions. Your solicitors can help you argue your case, and resolve and settle your disputes.

How can a Britton and Time probate solicitor help?

A probate solicitor can assist you in probate of a contentious and non-contentious manner. Whether it is for probate administration or probate disputes, if you need any advice or require some assistance, then your solicitor can help you as much as you need them to.

Why Britton and Time Solicitors should assist you?

Our firm possesses a wealth of experience dealing with both contentious probate and non-contentious probate. We offer a range of probate services. We have the requisite experience and legal expertise to deal probate administration from start to finish; and to advise you and to represent you regarding any probate disputes and probate litigation/probate proceedings. We are knowledgeable and experienced in probate law and requirements set out in the law of intestacy, Wills Act, Inheritance Tax Act, Administration of Estates Act, and the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act. We strive to deal with our matters as efficiently, accurately and as smoothly as possible. The death of a loved one is a sensitive and stressful time. We are here to help you and support you. If you need any assistance, guidance, advice or representation, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01273726951 or by clicking here.

 

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