Probate and Estate Administration

We provide advice and guidance on a wide range of probate and estate administration issues on behalf of both individuals and personal representatives.

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Probate and Estate Administration

Professional advise for executors or administrators of estates

If you find yourself in the role of executor or administrator of a will you bear the responsibility of overseeing the estate administration process.

Probate is the process of obtaining legal authority to manage someone’s estate and ensure the orderly distribution of their assets after debts and taxes. In the vast majority of cases, and certainly for high value estates, this will mean appointing a professional advisor to manage the estate administration on your behalf.

We provide advice and guidance on a wide range of probate and estate administration issues on behalf of both individuals and personal representatives, including managing the legal and tax aspects, settling debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Our broad team structure allows us to provide a tailored service which is affordable, and our probate costs are transparent.

Working in collaboration with other professional advisors, our services encompass a variety of matters, including:

  • Advising on a range of tax issues for personal representatives and beneficiaries
  • Handling returns to HM Revenues & Customs
  • Obtaining a grant of representation
  • Identifying inheritance tax reliefs, including agricultural, business and charity exemptions
  • Overseeing estate administration, including overseas assets, valuable properties, chattels, business assets and cases involving missing beneficiaries

Several of our solicitors are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the leading professional body for trust and estate practitioners. This ensures that we stay abreast of the latest developments in this intricate area of law, enabling us to offer proactive advice on current and future matters.

Our exceptional reputation in this field has consistently earned us referrals from other professional advisors, including many City accountancy firms. If you would like to discuss your probate and estate management issues or learn more about our work in relation to trusts and estates, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team in St Albans, Harpenden or Luton.


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FAQs

Frequently asked questions

Who deals with the administration of a deceased person’s estate?

If the deceased left a Will, then it should have appointed one or more executors. If the deceased did not leave a Will (died intestate), then a close family member will generally take on the role of administrator. Administrators and executors are known as personal representatives. Personal representatives have the responsibility of administering a deceased person’s estate.

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

A Will gives an executor (or executors) the right to deal with a deceased person’s estate. A Grant of Probate is a legal document issued by the courts which confirms their authority under a Will to deal with an estate.

A Grant of Letters of Administration is a legal document which gives administrators the legal authority to deal with a deceased person’s estate.

Is it necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation in every estate?

It is not always necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation to complete the administration of an estate.

Banks, building societies and other institutions do not require sight of a Grant of Representation to close a deceased person’s account(s) where the assets held with them fall below a certain threshold.

A Grant of Representation may not be necessary where the deceased’s assets are held jointly with another person, often with a surviving spouse or civil partner. If a deceased person’s assets are held jointly, the right of survivorship means the surviving joint owner(s) will inherit the assets automatically.

Assets which are written in trust, such as certain life insurance policies, may pass directly to individuals without needing a Grant of Representation.

What are the fees and costs associated with the administration of an estate, and how are they calculated?

Should personal representatives choose to instruct the Private Client department to assist with the administration of a deceased person’s estate, fees will be based on the time taken to complete matters, charged at the hourly rates of the fee earners involved. How long it will take to complete the administration of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate, and how much assistance is required – you may decide you only require assistance with the payment of inheritance tax and the obtaining of a Grant of Representation, or you may require assistance with the entire process.

The Probate Court fee for the issue of a Grant of Representation is currently £273 and a further £1.50 for each sealed copy. The cost of the statutory notices is usually in the region of £200/£250.

What do personal representatives have to do?

Personal representatives have the obligation of administering the estate of a deceased person properly. This means establishing the extent of the estate, paying the liabilities and costs and expenses incurred in administering the estate, including any inheritance tax, and distributing the balance of the estate to the beneficiaries.  The law requires that this be done with due diligence – instructing a solicitor will help you do this.

How long will it take to obtain a Grant of Representation?

The length of time it takes to obtain a Grant of Representation (i.e. a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration) depends on the complexity and size of the estate. Every application for a Grant must be supported by an Application Form signed by the personal representatives.  This is to establish their right to the Grant and confirms the value of the estate that will be dealt with under the authority of the Grant.  Depending upon the estate value, the Grant may not be be issued unless appropriate information has been submitted to H M Revenue & Customs, and where relevant, the initial payment of inheritance tax has been made.

What happens if someone contests a will during probate?

If someone contests a Will during the administration of an estate our Commercial Litigation team have specialist advisors who will be able to assist.

Are there any tax implications associated with the administration of an estate, and if so, how are they handled?

Inheritance tax, if payable, will need to be calculated and at least some of it paid before the Grant of Representation can be obtained.

It will also be necessary to pay income tax on any income received during the administration of the estate.

Capital Gains Tax may also be payable where assets (for example property or shares) are sold during the administration of an estate.

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