What exactly is probate?
Probate is the legal term for the process when one or more people obtain the right to handle the possessions and property of someone who has died. An executor appointed by the will needs to get hold of the legal authority to handle any outstanding debts and collect any money owed as well as to follow the terms of the deceased person’s will by handing out their property to their beneficiaries – this is sometimes referred to as ‘administering the estate’.
Looking for experienced probate advice? Call our experienced team on (01425) 652110 or (01722) 422300 for no strings attached FREE initial phone advice.
How our probate solicitors can help you.
Our dedicated probate team specialise in dealing with the legal issues arising after death and have many years’ experience of this type of work.
For many people, the time and responsibility involved in dealing with the administration of an estate is very off-putting and they find themselves unable to manage all the paperwork at a time when they are trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one.
Our probate service covers all aspects of the administration of an estate. Our team are more than happy to take over entire responsibility for probate – but equally, if you prefer, you can simply get our advice and assistance with those parts of estate administration you’re not happy dealing with yourself.
Here is a summary of the main areas of estate administration which our probate solicitors can help you with;
- Agree with the executors exactly what they wish us to do and, once we have established the size of the estate, the assets involved, and the nature of the beneficiaries, provide them with a free no obligation costs estimate for dealing with the estate
- Contact all companies with whom assets were held to obtain valuations; arrange valuations of houses, jewellery, cars etc as required; contact all creditors; establish the debts and liabilities.
- Prepare a schedule of the assets and liabilities of the estate.
- Prepare the papers for the Probate Office.
- Prepare papers for the Capital Taxes Office responsible for the collection of inheritance tax; ensure that the assets are correctly declared and that all exemptions and tax reliefs are properly claimed.
- Liaise with you about the inheritance tax due if appropriate, and advise you how best to arrange payment.
- Apply for the grant of probate.
- Deal with the assets as agreed with the executors and beneficiaries, and maintaining a designated client account for holding estate monies.
- Liaise with beneficiaries, inform them of their entitlement, obtain bank details to enable payment to be made to them, carry out bankruptcy searches for the executors’ protection prior to making payment.
- Advise the executors of steps that can be taken for their protection and carry these out if instructed to do so.
- Ensure the estate is distributed in accordance with the terms of the will.
- Produce detailed estate accounts showing how all the assets of the estate have been dealt with.
- Liaise with HMRC concerning the income tax affairs of the person who has died and, if their affairs are straightforward, we will deal with any income tax return required. Where the deceased’s tax affairs are more complicated, we are happy to instruct an accountant on your behalf to deal with the necessary formalities.
What to do when someone dies – first steps
- Find out if there is a will
The will sets out who the executors are – they are the people responsible for dealing with the assets within the estate and ensuring that they are distributed in line with the will. If the executors are not family members, make sure they are informed as soon as possible about what has happened.
If there is no will, then the intestacy rules will apply. These rules set out who should deal with the estate; these people are called administrators.
Administrators and executors have the same duties and responsibilities and are known as personal representatives (PRs).
Click here to read more about the duties of an executor
- Register the death.
This must be done with the Registrar for Births and Deaths for the sub district in which the death occurred. Telephone them for an appointment; they will tell you exactly what information you need to take along to the appointment.
The local Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Sherborne can be found at the at the Town Council offices.
Sherborne Registration Office
Tel: 01305 225153
Sherborne Town Council Offices
- Make arrangements for the funeral. Check the will to see if the person who had died had any special funeral wishes and make sure the funeral director is aware of these.
- Notify the household insurer if the house is now unoccupied.The insurance company may have additional requirements which must be satisfied if the insurance is not to be invalidated.
Click here for more information about probate and estate administration.
Can I handle my own probate?
Yes, that is quite possible.
When there is little property involved, or the estate is very simple, or if you have experience in dealing with probate, then DIY probate may work well for you. However many people find it both complicated confusing and distressing.
What’s more if executors make mistakes, they can be personally liable – and DIY probate significantly increases the chance of a contested probate or inheritance claim.
Live in Sherborne? Need probate advice you can rely on? For the right advice from probate experts, talk to us first.
Whether you are looking for solicitors to deal with the whole of probate, or would rather have advice on just one aspect of estate administration, contact our expert probate lawyers today for a FREE no obligation initial phone chat. Our team have all the experience you need.
- Just call us on SALISBURY (01722) 422300 or FORDINGBRIDGE (01425) 652110
- E-mail us using the contact form below