Losing a loved one is an extremely upsetting and often confusing time. There is a lot to think about and organise such as the funeral, which in itself can be an onerous task. There are family members to deal with and bills to be paid. This is where the task at hand can become even more complicated. Dealing with a loved one’s estate administration can prolong the grief and hurt that comes with losing a loved one. Probate solicitors can help take away the stress of dealing with financial matters and assist with the probate application regarding your loved one’s estate.
During this difficult time, the last thing you may want to do is start dealing with legal correspondence in connection with the probate and estate administration. Depending on the size of the estate and the type of assets involved you may have to obtain a Grant of Probate. Probate applications can involve lengthy, complex paperwork and tax forms, particularly if the estate is liable to pay Inheritance Tax. An Executor can also be held personally liable if errors occur during the estate administration, even if any mistake was made in good faith. This whole probate process is not easy to navigate, and it is therefore easy to understand why people seek out the help of probate solicitors.
David Gray Solicitors can help take away the stress of dealing with financial matters and assist with the Probate application regarding your loved one’s estate. Our specialist probate solicitors are here to deal with an application in a timely, sensitive and professional manner and can also provide support in dealing with the paperwork for estates of all sizes. We can provide thorough advice on the inheritance tax thresholds available to the estate and confirm whether any inheritance tax is payable. We can undertake this type of work no matter where the Will was drafted. We also have extensive experience of administering estates where no Will has been left at all.
The complexity of the administration of a person’s estate all depends on the value of the estate and the assets involved. It can be an overwhelming process and we can help executors to move through the process with confidence. The administration of an estate may involve the calculation and payment of Inheritance Tax. This will also involve timescales from the date of death for which executors must be aware of, but our team will ensure these are not missed and penalties not incurred. Our probate specialist solicitors will ensure that executors are kept up to date in connection with progress in the case. We can draft all legal documents that are required as part of the estate administration including tax returns and final estate accounts.
Our specialist probate solicitors also offer help with only certain parts of the estate administration only if this is what you would prefer. We find that often clients simply want help with the application alone and wish to deal with the remainder of the work themselves. Again, we can complete this task on your behalf and provide you with guidance moving forward to complete the estate administration.
How our probate and estate administrators can help?
As part of a standard probate and estate administration we can help with the following:
- Explain the terms of the Will and help identify the beneficiaries. If no Will has been left we can advise you on the Intestacy Rules,
- Advise and deal with issues such as lifetime gifts, nil-rate bands and the distribution of the estate,
- Identify all assets including bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions, properties, business assets etc,
- Deal with any liabilities such as credit cards, bills or overpaid benefits,
- Liaise with asset holders to obtain valuations as at the time of death,
- Carry out an Inheritance Tax calculation applying all exemptions and reliefs,
- Arrange for payment of any Inheritance Tax or discuss payment options with you,
- Prepare the Probate application including a full Inheritance Tax return (if applicable),
- Submit the application to the Probate Registry,
- Upon receipt of the Grant of Probate, attend to any letters of authority and closure forms to encash the assets,
- Deal with the sale or transfer of any property,
- Finalise the tax position of the estate,
- Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries and finalise the estate accounts.
Our Probate fees
If you are going to instruct a probate solicitor to assist with the estate administration it is important to understand how much it will cost. In accordance with rules published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), as of December 2018, all firms offering this type of work must publish details of prices and personnel undertaking the work. Please see our dedicated fees page for more information.
At David Gray, we offer a unique approach to pricing, in that we will give the client various options. We can offer fixed fee probate packages or we can approach the work on an hourly rate basis and will provide you with a time estimate. We appreciate that each Executor client is different and our probate solicitors like to spend some time at the outset of the case dealing with costs to ensure the client is happy to move forward and that the pricing structure works for the estate and the Executor.
What do solicitors do for probate?
The tasks involved in dealing with probate can be time-consuming and complex, we offer a range of packages, the table below shows which tasks our probate specialist solicitors will undertake with each probate service:
|Tasks||Silver (Advisory)||Gold (Advisory+)||Platinum (Complete)|
|Meet with the Executor to discuss the estate administration process, tasks ahead, assets and liabilities.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Identify the correct Executors or Administrators and beneficiaries, and discuss the terms of the Will (if any).||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Correctly identify the type of Probate application required.||Yes||Yes|
|Liaise with all asset holders including banks, building societies, pension providers and insurers to obtain valuations of the estate.||Yes||Yes|
|Obtain valuations of properties (if any) from local estate agents.||Yes||Yes|
|Submit statutory notices if applicable.||Yes||Yes|
|Draft the Probate application and calculate if any Inheritance Tax is payable.||Yes||Yes|
|Obtain the Executor’s signature(s) to the Probate application.||Yes||Yes|
|Submit the Probate application to the Probate Court and provide the Executor with copies.||Yes||Yes|
|Once Probate is received, prepare letters of authority, encashment forms, stock transfer forms and liaise with asset holders.||Yes|
|Collect in the assets and pay outstanding liabilities.||Yes|
|Liaise with utility companies regarding any payments due or owed, such as Council Tax and State Pension.||Yes|
|Discuss any Deeds of Variation or post death tax planning.||Yes|
|Correspond with HMRC as appropriate and obtain clearance.||Yes|
|Liaise with Executors and correspond with residuary beneficiaries regarding distribution including bankruptcy checks.||Yes|
|Preparing a final set of estate accounts for the Executor’s approval.||Yes|
|Organising final distributions to beneficiaries.||Yes|
|Regularly updating Executor and beneficiaries where required.||Yes|
If you are looking for further help with life planning, our specialist teams can help:
For expert legal advice, or if you have any enquiries, call us on 0191 232 9547. Alternatively, you can book an appointment and visit our specialist probate, trusts and wills, and asset protection solicitors at one of our North East offices:
56 Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 5XU
142 Fowler Street, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 1PZ
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does probate take?
The length of the process can vary from case to case but generally, it takes 8-12 weeks for applications to be processed by the Registry. Our probate solicitors provide a complete probate service, from initial advice through to obtaining the Grant of Probate. The team will also deal with resulting administrative affairs on your behalf.
What’s the difference between probate and administration?
Both grant access to a deceased person’s estate. Grant of Probate is issued to the Executor/s named in the Will, whereas Letters of Administration are issued to next of kin and someone who died without a Will.
Why do solicitors take so long to get probate?
The entire probate process takes longer in complex estates when inheritance tax is payable or additional tax reliefs need to be claimed. In such cases, a full tax return must be sent to HMRC and any taxes paid before probate can be issued. HMRC has experienced delays due to covid and an increase in work connected to the pandemic. Our probate solicitors have experience in dealing with highly-complex estates and are committed to obtaining probate in a timely manner.
How long can a solicitor hold money after probate and why?
A solicitor dealing with probate will usually retain sufficient funds to pay taxes, costs, and expenses and can be asked to make interim payments if it is likely the estate will take some time to finalise. HMRC can be slow to finalise the tax position so it may be prudent in some cases to retain funds to pay inheritance or other taxes before making payments to beneficiaries.
Do I need to pay debts of the estate while waiting for probate?
Any correspondence received regarding a debt of the deceased is a debt of their estate and not a debt owed by the executor personally. Often you can take a funeral bill to the deceased’s bank and the bank will settle it directly. For other bills, companies deal with this situation all the time and often have dedicated bereavement teams. They will understand that sometimes the bill cannot be settled immediately.
How do I pay inheritance tax if it is due?
If inheritance tax is due, then usually payment can be arranged with the deceased’s banks and building societies and is paid directly to HMRC before Probate is granted. If the deceased does not have sufficient liquid assets to meet the tax bill, we can advise about other options depending on the circumstances.
Who pays solicitor's fees for probate?
Fees for probate solicitors’ services are paid from the estate before the beneficiaries receive their share. They are usually agreed with the executors at the start of the case. The funds to pay the costs may come from the sale of a property or closing bank accounts.
What assets are subject to probate?
Assets held in the deceased’s name, investment products, life insurance policies, foreign assets and business assets are all subject.
How much do probate solicitors cost?
The costs for our probate solicitor services are outlined on our fees pages using the links above. We can provide a written quote.