Contact our Probate and Estate Administration Team on 01225 755656. Alternatively, you can email them or complete the Contact Form at the foot of this page.
See also Lifetime Planning and Wills.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough without the additional stress of managing their legal affairs. Our probate and estates solicitors team will help guide you through the legal responsibilities with expert advice on administering the estate.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of:
- proving a Will is valid; and
- confirming who has the authority to administer the estate.
If a Will names you as an ‘executor’ and you accept the appointment, the Probate Registry will grant you probate on application.
The Grant of Probate represents your authority as an executor to deal with the deceased person’s assets, enabling you to:
- pay any debts and tax due; and
- distribute the balance of the assets according to the terms of the Will.
How long does probate take?
Under normal circumstances, the Probate Registry issues a Grant of Probate within 2 to 4 weeks of the application. However, applications were subject to considerable delays during lockdown, and the government website still warns the process can take considerably longer.
“May I extend my sincere thanks to you for your professionalism and excellent work. Prompt replies to all enquiries which were answered with great clarity. Highly recommended.” WH
Can you track a probate application?
The person applying for probate – usually your solicitor – can track the application’s progress via their MyHMCTS account.
What happens if you die without a Will?
A person dying without a Will dies ‘intestate’. But then, statutory rules apply to decide what happens to the intestate estate. And these rules also govern what happens if a person dies ‘partially intestate’. That happens if a person leaves a Will, but it does not deal with the whole of their estate. Also, a partial intestacy occurs if the named executor(s) cannot or will not act.
Our experienced specialist probate solicitors provide sensitive and clear advice at what is inevitably a challenging time. They can deal with Inheritance Tax (IHT) papers and the probate application on your behalf.
After receiving the Grant of Probate, we can deal with the remainder of the estate administration. Alternatively, should you choose, we can hand everything over to you so you can collect the assets, distribute them to the beneficiaries and pay any tax due. Indeed, as an executor, the extent of our involvement is entirely a matter for you.
The types of services our probate solicitors can offer include:
- Registering the death;
- Applying for probate/administration of the estate;
- Establishing entitlement as a beneficiary of the estate;
- Locating missing beneficiaries;
- Identifying and administering the assets of the estate until they can be either sold or distributed to the relevant beneficiaries;
- Dealing with the debts of the deceased;
- Dealing with HM Revenue & Customs, including preparing and filing any necessary tax returns;
- Advising the executors if the Will is challenged;
- Distributing the estate’s assets and accounting to each beneficiary according to the terms of the Will.
“Brilliant in every respect. Jenny Greenland is a consummate professional. She has great interpersonal skills. She is also kind, sensitive and thoughtful.” RW
Do I need a solicitor for probate?
Many people, particularly if they have the time – and the estate is reasonably straightforward – apply for probate without using a specialist solicitor. However, you should be aware that applying for probate and dealing with an estate carries legal obligations. Indeed, you can incur personal liability should you get it wrong!
In addition, there are also certain situations where we particularly recommend instructing a specialist probate solicitor, including:
- Where the Will names a charity or charities as beneficiaries;
- When the estate may be liable for Inheritance Tax (IHT);
- If the deceased person left no known Will (known as ‘dying intestate’), particularly if the value of the estate is likely to exceed £270,000;
- Where there are concerns over the validity of the Will;
- If the Will has been or is likely to be, contested. For example, where dependants of the deceased person are not mentioned in the Will;
- If the Will mentions ‘Trusts’ or is otherwise complex;
- Where the deceased person had foreign property or assets;
- If the deceased person had business or agricultural assets;
- If the estate is insolvent. In other words, if the value of all the assets is less than the liabilities.