If you have been named in a will as a personal representative for a person who has recently died, whether as an Executor or Administrator, you may be unsure how to handle the process of estate administration and probate – or simply not have the time necessary. As specialist local probate and estate administration solicitors, Bonallack & Bishop handle a wide range of legal matters on behalf of Executors, Trustees and family members in the Romsey area from our offices in Salisbury and Fordingbridge.
Whether you want us to handle the whole process of probate, or you prefer to do much of yourself, with specialist legal advice as and when necessary, we are here to help. Our 12 strong private client team are happy to meet with you in any of our offices face-to-face – alternatively if you prefer, they can run your probate case and keep in touch with you by email, phone or video call. It’s entirely up to you.
In short, we are here to remove the burden and pressure from your shoulders and ensure that the entire process is completed with the utmost efficiency and care.
On this page, we will explain what happens to the estate of a person who has died, including the purpose of probate, what probate solicitors do, what happens during probate, and how long the process takes.
Live in the Romsey or New Forest area? Looking for help with probate? Call our experienced team on (01425) 652110 for FREE initial phone advice – with no strings attached
What is an Executor?
If you have been named as an Executor in a Will, it’s your role to manage the estate of the testator (the person who created the Will) on their behalf when they pass on.
Estate administration involves a number of tasks, including:
• Ensure all property owned by the deceased person is secured
• Arranging the funeral in accordance with the Will
• Gathering all of the estate’s assets and money owed
• Getting valuations for the assets within the estate
• Paying any inheritance tax and debts owing from the proceeds of the estate
• Distributing the estate to those named in the Will or in accordance with the rules of intestacy (the standard rules for inheritance that are used if there is no Will)
It is important that the role of the Executor be completed carefully, both to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are faithfully carried out and also to avoid any legal liability or claim due to mistakes being made during the process. that’s because as executor your legally liable for any mistakes – if you fail to collect all the monies in, failed to pay debts or calculate inheritance tax, for example.
For this reason, if you have been named as an Executor in a Will and you are worried that it could be too stressful to you, that you don’t have enough time to properly or you are nervous about being personally responsible if anything should go wrong, it’s definitely worth talking to one of our probate team to discuss your options.
Click here to read more about the Executor’s Role in Probate
What is meant by ‘probate’?
Probate is the process of administering the estate of a person who has passed away. However, probate is not always needed.
Probate may not be required, for example, if the person who died only had savings or their assets were jointly owned (e.g. with their spouse). Where assets are jointly owned, such as the family home, they will normally automatically pass to the surviving owner without any additional steps being completed.
If probate is required, the Executor of a Will must apply for and receive a ‘Grant of Probate’ through the Courts and Tribunals Service before administering the deceased’s estate.
If there is no Will, then a close living relative can apply for a ‘Letter of Administration’ which will give them the legal permission to handle the estate of the deceased in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
Do I need a probate Solicitor?
In short, no. There is no legal requirement to instruct a solicitor to handle probate and estate administration. Executors and Administrators may choose to instruct a Probate Solicitor because they want to ensure the process is completed correctly, to avoid any possibility for legal liability if they make a mistake, or simply because they don’t have the bandwidth, whether emotionally or in terms of time, to take on the work needed.
As specialist probate solicitors, here at Bonallack & Bishop we can manage the process on your behalf from beginning to end, allowing you to focus on your family, work, and other personal life. Alternatively we can sit in the background, ready to help you with specialist advice if and when required. It’s your choice.
And our extended team have plenty of experience handling any complex issues which may arise, such as disagreements over the validity of the Will or the wishes of the deceased. And our 22 strong conveyancing team regularly help with the transfer and sale of probate property.
Click here to find out more about our Probate Solicitors can help you.
Click here to read about what our clients say about us – our Wills and Probate Lawyers Reviews
Is it possible to simply turn down acting as an executor?
Yes that’s perfectly possible. You can either continue as executor on paper but leave the legal work to us, or alternatively, through a process known as”renunciation” simply step down as executor. But if you’re thinking of doing that, it’s critically important not to start taking on the role as executor in any way – as in doing so you may lose your right to “renunciation”.
Click here to read more about Renunciation of Probate
Where to register the death
You will need to register the death the Registrar for Births and Deaths for the local sub district in which the death occurred. Call them on 03005551392 to arrange appointment. They can help you with the type of information you will need to take to your appointment.
Your local Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages is at:
Steps before applying for a Grant of Probate
Before applying for a Grant of Probate, it is first important to check if probate is definitely needed, whether it is possible to apply, and whether any inheritance tax (IHT) will need to be paid to taxman – HMRC. This involves valuing the estate by:
• Contacting any companies and organisations that the deceased person dealt with, e.g. to determine the value of savings and any debts owed
• Listing the assets owned by the deceased
• Getting a valuation for assets if necessary (e.g. property, jewellery, art)
• Listing any gifts made by the deceased in the last 7 years and their value and
• Getting the value of any trusts in which the deceased had a beneficial interest
The assets to be included as part of the estate of a deceased person may include:
• Their home
• Other properties (whether in the UK or overseas)
• Buildings or land
• Money in banks, building societies or ISAs
• Cash in their home
• Stocks, shares, and other investments
• Household and personal items (this includes furniture, paintings and jewellery)
• Cars, caravans or boats
• Assets held overseas (e.g. boats)
• Money owed to the deceased and
• Payments received on death, such as life insurance or ‘death benefit’ from a pension
Having gathered all of this information, the next step is to determine if the estate will need to pay IHT and, if so, how much. This involves working out the gross value of the estate and then deducting the value of any jointly owned assets, gifts made in the last 7 years, overseas assets, assets held in trust, debts owed, and any funeral costs.
If any IHT is due, forms IHT400 and IHT421 must be completed and sent to HMRC. The rules state that the person handling the estate must start paying any amount due to HRMC and then wait 20 working days before applying for probate.
Applying for a Grant of Probate
When you have completed the above steps, it is then possible to apply for a Grant of Probate. This can be done online or by post (using forms PA1P if there is a Will or PA1A if there is no Will). A fee of £273 must also be paid at this time (assuming the value of the estate is over £5,000).
Once the application for a Grant of Probate has been received and the correct fee paid, the Probate Service will start to process the application. If it meets the necessary criteria, a Grant of Probate will then be issued.
If the person who died did not leave a Will, they will issue ‘letters of administration’. The Grant of Probate or ‘letters of administration’ will normally be sent within 16 weeks of the application. Applications may take longer if any mistakes have been made or if further information is needed by the Probate Service. This is why engaging a probate solicitor can be invaluable as they understand the process and what the Probate Service will be looking for when making a decision.
Once you have received the Grant of Probate or ‘letters of administration,’ you can formally start the process of administering the estate and, ultimately, distributing the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
Distributing the estate to beneficiaries
It is important to ensure that any beneficiaries named in the Will receive their inheritances as soon as possible. The amount of time it can take to distribute the estate depends on the complexity of the estate and any potential disputes or claims. Executors have a legal duty to always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and to ensure that the estate of the deceased is distributed fairly and according to the law. This may involve other tasks, such as updating the property register (held by the Land Registry) if any property is passed on to a beneficiary.
Once all of the estate has been distributed according to the wishes of the deceased person, it is then necessary to prepare and submit a set of final estate accounts to HMRC. It is important to ensure that the estate accounts are properly approved and signed by the Executor and the beneficiaries (i.e. to confirm that the inheritances have been received).
Dealing with the estate of a loved one who has recently passed away can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming. This is why many Executors and Administrators prefer to hand the process over to a probate and estate administration solicitor.
If you live in the Romsey or wider area, why not speak to a member of our probate team. They are here to support and guide you through the process of managing the Will of your loved one. We have helped hundreds of families in Romsey to navigate probate, taking the pressure off their shoulders and allowing them to deal with the death of their loved one.
We will handle the estate of the person who died in line with their Will, ensuring that their wishes are faithfully respected, any beneficiaries receive their inheritance as soon as possible, and all legal and tax-related matters are fully resolved.
Live in Romsey ? Looking for specialist help the probate? Talk to us first.
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