When a loved one passes away, dealing with their estate can be relatively straightforward or much more complicated, depending on the circumstances. Obtaining a Grant of Probate is usually the first step in this process and having expert legal advice and support can make this much easier.
Our highly experienced probate solicitors can help you with every step of the probate process, making it as simple and stress-free as possible. We can guide you through even the most difficult of circumstances, such as where a loved one has died without leaving a Will or where there is a dispute over the contents of the Will. With our expertise, we can give you the confidence that probate will be handled correctly and that any problems that do arise can be swiftly and effectively dealt with.
While we are based in Bristol, we work with clients all over the country and internationally, so wherever you and the beneficiaries of the estate are based, we can provide a fast, efficient probate service.
We offer a Initial Interview to every client so we can understand the details of your situation and the estate you are dealing with. We can then provide a clear breakdown of your legal options and a realistic estimate of our fees so you have all the information you need to decide how to move forward.
Unlike some firms, we do not charge a percentage of the value of the estate, but only charge you for the work we do, allowing you to keep compete control over the costs involved.
How Grant of Probate works
A Grant of Probate is a Court Order made in the Probate Registry that authorises the Executors to administer and distribute the assets of an estate. Exactly how this works will depend on whether the deceased left a valid Will or not.
Only very small estates (worth less than about £10,000) can usually be administered without a Grant.
Probate when there is a Will
If the deceased left a Will and you are named as an Executor, you can apply for a Grant of Probate (also known as a ‘Grant of Representation’). If there is more than one named Executor, you will either need to decide which of you will take on the job or agree to act together to administer the estate.
Probate when there is no Will
If the deceased did not leave a Will, someone will need to apply for a Grant of Representation to be the ‘Administrator’ of the estate. The Administrator will normally need to be the deceased’s next of kin e.g. their spouse, civil partner or child.
If there is no Will, the estate will usually need to be divided according to the laws of intestacy which set out strict rules for who can inherit.
Paying inheritance tax during probate
To obtain a Grant of Probate the Executors must value all the assets in the estate and then take one of the following actions:
- If they think Inheritance Tax may be payable, complete Form IHT 400.
- Otherwise complete Form IHT205 to confirm that no tax is payable.
If Inheritance Tax is payable, the basic position is that it is payable 6 months after the end of the month in which the death occurred. In some circumstances, however, payment can be made by instalments and it may be spread out over as long as 10 years. When an asset is sold the tax attributable to it must then usually be paid.
For example, if the estate includes a house and the Executors plan to sell the house, they need only find 10% of the Inheritance Tax due by the 6-month deadline. The Executors then have a year to sell the house before the next 10% instalment becomes due. The full balance of the tax has to be paid when the house is sold. We can discuss with you in appropriate cases how the estate may be able to find or fund instalment payments.
Complex provisions exist in relation to payments of Inheritance Tax by instalments and the calculation of interest and you should ask for our advice about this.
Administering the estate
Once the issue of Inheritance Tax has been tackled, the Executors then swear an Executors Oath promising that they will administer the estate in accordance with the Will and the law. The Oath and the receipt for any Inheritance Tax paid to date or Form IHT205 are sent to the Probate Registry that will issue the Grant.
The Executors will then need to ensure that the deceased’s estate is distributed to the named beneficiaries as set out in the Will.
Common questions about probate
How long does grant of probate take?
This varies depending on the circumstances, including whether there are assets such as a property to sell. In general, however, probate will tend to take around 6-9 months to complete.
How much does probate cost?
This usually depends on the size and complexity of the estate. We will be happy to provide a no obligation quote on request.
Can one Executor act without the others’ agreement?
If multiple people are named as Executors, they will either need to agree which of them will act as the Executor or decide to work as joint Executors. If the Executors agree to work together, they will need to make decisions collectively to avoid any conflicts that could significantly hold up the probate process.
Can you request a copy of Will?
Only the Executors of the Will have a right to see it before probate is granted, but if you are named as beneficiary or feel that you should be, the Executors may be willing to allow you to see the Will.
Once probate has been granted, however, anyone can request a copy in exchange for a small fee. You can search online for a Will after probate has been granted using the deceased’s name and year of birth.
For more information about specific issues related to probate and the other areas of law we cover, please take a look at our Articles and News section.
Our expertise in probate and estate administration
Our Wills and probate team is led by Alex Davies, who has many years of experience guiding clients through probate, including for even the most complicated estates and challenging of circumstances.
We offer a sensitive, practical approach, helping to make this difficult time a little easier by taking the stress and confusion out of the probate process. We have particular expertise in dealing with elderly and vulnerable clients and can offer you as much or as little support as you need.
Devereux & Co is a Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulated firm meaning we are independently assessed on a regular basis, providing assurance that we continually meet the highest legal and professional standards.
Looking for help obtaining a Grant of Probate or with anything else to do with probate and estate administration?
Contact our probate solicitors in Westbury-on-Trym and Shirehampton now by calling 0117 959 3344 or filling in our online enquiry form with your queries.