If you are dealing with the estate of someone who has died, you need to check whether any of the beneficiaries have been declared bankrupt. If you mistakenly distribute part of the estate to a bankrupt beneficiary, the trustee in bankruptcy could bring a...
A Grant of Representation is the legal authority (known as the ‘Grant of Probate’ or ‘Grant of Representation’) that enables the Executor in a Will, or the person entitled to administer the estate (if no will has been left), to deal with the deceased's affairs. A Grant is usually required for estates in excess of £20,000 and until a Grant has been obtained, it is unlikely you will be able to sell or deal with any of the deceased's assets. The Grant of Probate, or Letters of Administration is always required if there is property to be sold.
Applying for a Grant of Probate does not have to be done through a solicitor, but it is usually quicker and less stressful to obtain the advice and guidance of a legal professional, as a solicitor will have the necessary expertise to deal with the estate, and will be familiar with the legal requirements involved in the process, which an individual may not be aware of. There are many complex matters to be handled during an estate administration, such as tax affairs, dealing with property insurance, selling a property or managing investments. By instructing a solicitor the beneficiaries can be reassured that all matters will be dealt with correctly. It can also helpf to reduce the risk of a potential family conflict, as the solicitor will be an impartial party dealing with the process.
Often it is the person who is bereaved who has been appointed as Executor and in those circumstances, applying for Probate at such a difficult time can be extremely stressful and upsetting. Many people name a firm of solicitors as Executor (either jointly or together with family or friends) and at BakerLaw we are experts in dealing with estates, and understand the processes and paperwork involved.
An Executor's responsibility is to take charge of all the assets and liabilities of the deceased, on behalf of the estate and those who will benefit from that estate (the beneficiaries). The Executor is fully accountable to the beneficiaries for their actions as Executor and is held personally and financially liable should the estate suffer any loss due to the estate being mishandled. An Executor's role is an onerous one and at BakerLaw, we can provide the necessary guidance to reduce the burden of this responsibility.
What immediate steps should I take following a death?
The first thing to do is to register the death and arrange the funeral. A Will may include the deceased's wishes regarding cremation or burial, and so as soon as possible after death, the Will should be located. In many cases the deceased's home is their most significant asset and it is important to ensure that any property, if empty, is made secure and that the insurers are notified of the death.
What if I can't find a Will or there is no Will?
If a Will cannot be found then the estate will be dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy, which means the law will decide how the estate is to be distributed. If you believe a Will does exist, BakerLaw can help you to locate it by searching a national database and contacting solicitors in the area where the Will may have been made.
How long does it take to finalise the administration of a Probate matter?
It depends on the size and complexity of the estate. If the estate is liable for Inheritance Tax this can also extend the process as a full Inheritance Tax return will need to be completed and written confirmation of Inheritance Tax Clearance should be obtained from HM Revenue & Customs, before the estate can be distributed. On average, for a straightforward estate, the administration might take between 12 - 18 months to finalise.
What fees are involved?
An Executor incurs a number of expenses in their role, including for example, death certificate fees, the funeral account, the Court fee for the Grant application, and professional fees. These can all be reclaimed from the Estate.
Our fees are dependent upon the complexity of the case and we are happy to discuss costs with you and give you an estimate before work is commenced. Please see our Probate Pricing page, for a rough guide on what it might cost to deal with an estate.
What is the Probate process and what does the solicitor do?
Watch our helpful video which explains the Probate process from start to finish, and our role.
How quickly do I need to apply for probate after someone dies?
There is no legal requirement as to the timeframe for applying for Probate, however much of the estate administration will not be possible until this is obtained, so it is generally one of the first things that is done. You can find out more here.
What if I do not want to take up the role of Executor?
If someone has been named as Executor in the Will, it is open to them to step down from (renounce) the position. If you think you may want to renounce, it is vital that you do not take any action at all in the estate administration before doing so. Once you have taken even a single action, you may be viewed as having intermeddled in the estate and it may no longer be possible for you to renounce. You can find out more about renunciation here.
We provide the following services to guide and assist someone dealing with a loved one’s estate after their death:
Acting as Executors
At BakerLaw LLP, we offer the service of acting as professional Executors, and will be happy to discuss the appointment of the partners of BakerLaw LLP, when preparing your Will.
If we are appointed to act as Executors of an estate, we will always ensure that all aspects of the estate administration are dealt with, as detailed under 'Dealing with the whole Estate Administration' below.
Obtaining the Grant of Probate only
If we are instructed to obtain the Grant of Probate only, we will ask the Executor to provide details of the value of all assets and liabilities at the date of death. We will then prepare the necessary papers and submit these to the Court. Once the Grant of Probate has been issued we will check that there have been no errors made by the court, and then pass the document to the Executors so that they may deal with the remainder of the estate administration.
Dealing with the whole Estate Administration
Alternatively, we offer a service to deal with the whole estate i.e. ensuring every stage of the Probate process is completed and all the Executors' duties have been fulfilled. If we are instructed to deal with the whole estate we would:-
- Advise upon the various responsibilities and duties of the Executors throughout the process;
- Provide details of options available to Executors in order to protect themselves from liability for the estate;
- Obtain the necessary Probate valuations, if necessary;
- Prepare and submit the Probate application to the Court;
- Deal with all assets and liabilities and liaise with all asset holders and liability organisations throughout the process;
- Transfer assets into the beneficiaries' names or, alternatively, collect in or sell the assets on behalf of the estate;
- Deal with all tax affairs and obtain tax clearances from HM Revenue & Customs for Income Tax, Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax;
- Prepare estate accounts;
- Make final distributions to the beneficiaries of the estate.
If instructed to deal with the entire estate administration our charges are calculated according to the time spent by the Lawyer who deals with your matter. At BakerLaw, all our Probate Lawyers are experienced in dealing with Will, Probate and Estate Administration.
We will be able to provide you with a tailored quote for the above services once we know more about your specific circumstances.