Probate & Estate Administration
As an executor named in a Will, or someone who is applying or has applied for letters of administration if someone has died without a Will, we are able to assist you with dealing with any applications and legal paperwork, HMRC forms, and where appropriate dealing with some or all of the administration of the estate. We are also able to help with contentious probate (where there is a challenge to the Will) should this be required. Our service is comprehensive, and our fees are competitive.
Reducing the stress, the burden and the liability
Dealing with an estate after someone has died can be daunting, time consuming, stressful, and if you do take this on, you can also be liable for any errors or mistakes you make, both financially and legally for your lifetime. We believe that in virtually all circumstances, this should be left to a professional law firm, experienced in these matters, that can provide an insured service to deal with the process from start to finish.
Although you might be worried about the cost, the reality is that the cost of not using a professional firm might outweigh the benefits, especially if you make a mistake, the Will gets challenged, or beneficiaries start to argue.
Experience and Value For Money
Not all probate services are the same. Our Probate is undertaken by our 'sister firm', which is an SRA regulated firm of Solicitors that specialises in Probate work, including both non-contentious and contentious work. When our clients choose to use us for our Probate service, they are also entitled to discounted conveyancing fees when it comes to selling the property.
There are specialist partners within the firm that can deal with Deeds of Variation, Deeds of Appointment, Trustee Minutes/Resolutions, Deeds of Family Arrangement and more. These specialisms allow us to provide a more rounded service and offer more solutions when beneficiaries disagree, third parties make a claim on the estate or challenge the Will, assets require an additional level of protection or tax burdens which have been unnecessarily created for future generations need to be mitigated.
What is a sister firm? Goodwills was acquired by an experienced firm of solicitors to provide specialist Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney services, whilst they provided the legally regulated services such as probate and lifetime trusts and it has become a brilliant collaboration, allowing client needs to be fully met at the right price. Both firms operate from the same building, and the same specialist partner is on the board of directors for both firms.
With Probate and Estate administration, the reality in most instances is paying a professional firm to do the work and take the liability, the stress and the burden away and can provide benefits that outweigh the costs many times over and leave the beneficiaries in a much better position at the end of the process.
Our service starts with a telephone call from a senior member of staff, who will take the required information from you, and provide a fixed fee quotation. We can offer a home visit if you prefer and your case will be dealt with by the specialist probate team from our sister firm, Premier Solicitors.
What is involved with Estate Administration
Whether you do the administration of an estate yourself, or you instruct us or another firm to do the work on your behalf, there is a lot of things to do. Here is a non exclusive list of the role of an executor of a Will:
Ascertaining what property and other assets were owned by the deceased at the date of their death and obtain accurate valuations as the date of death, including any outstanding interest.
Determining what liabilities were owed by the deceased at the date of death and obtain accurate settlement figures. Further settlement figures might be required once the grant has been received, and you are ready to pay any liabilities.
Arranging the funeral and if no funeral plan is in place, paying for this. This can be paid for from the estate, or claimed back as an expense against the estate.
Establishing all tax due, such as Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, Income Tax, Council Tax and any other tax owed as at the date of death. This involves ensuring that all of the correct tax returns are completed and submitted to HMRC with due care on the accuracy and in a timely fashion. Failure to do so may result in fines, for which the Executors are personally liable.
Completing and submitting the various Probate forms, including the IHT205, IHT400 and associated forms to the Probate Registry.
Once the Grant of Probate has been obtained, Trustee Act Notices should be placed in the London Gazette and in a local paper. A waiting period of 6 months is then recommended, in order to mitigate the Executor’s liability. This is because the Will can be challenged, and those who feel they might be owed by the deceased, can come forward. This is one area that lay Executors often get wrong. Beneficiaries might put pressure on executors to not uphold this waiting period, and leave the executor vulnerable to financial liability.
Where there is a property involved, this will need to be transferred or sold, depending on the circumstances. A Trust may need to be enacted, dependent on the Will.
Collecting in all the assets and paying any outstanding liabilities.
Any gifts and legacies then will need to be distributed to the intended beneficiaries. These usually pass tax free but this is an area where Executors need to be cautious, and so it’s best to contact a solicitor or lawyer to verify this.
Before the final distribution of the residuary Estate, detailed accounts and a Statement of Assets & Liabilities should be passed to be beneficiaries of the Estate so any concerns might be raised.
Finally, the residuary Estate should be distributed to the chosen beneficiaries in accordance with the Will. It's crucially important that this is done correctly, as otherwise the executor will be personally responsible for retrieving incorrectly paid amounts. There may be bespoke Trusts to be set up or monies may need to be held on Trust for minors who have not yet reached the age of attainment.
When Premier Solicitors carry out our Full Estate Administration, they will guide you through all of the steps above and carry out all of the legal work on your behalf. We can arrange a no-obligation home visit to explore the requirements of your situation and see if you would benefit from our services.
As a senior consultant for Goodwills Legal Services Ltd, I can provide you with advice, understand your circumstances, explore what needs to be done, and provide you with a no-obligation quotation from Premier Solicitors.
I can offer you a free consultation which I can do in the comfort of your own home, or via the telephone, or we can arrange a meeting at the Fairfield Enterprise Centre in Louth.
You have nothing to lose apart from a couple of hours of your time to see whether we are the right company and I am the right person to help you with your estate planning needs.
I look forward to being able to help you get these matters resolved and reduce the burden and stress during this difficult time.
Call me on 01507 707123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get the ball rolling.