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If you are thinking about who will deal with your affairs when you are gone, our expert Private Client team will be able to offer you advice tailored to your situation, and help prepare you for the appropriate course of action.
Estate planning is a key area of our work. We advise on most aspects of wealth management including Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax planning. Our proactive advice and assistance is designed to help individuals:
- safeguard their own financial security
- ensure a smooth transition of assets from one generation to the next
- exercise as much choice and control over their financial affairs as possible
Depending upon the complexity of your affairs we may need to call upon and combine our expertise in areas such as Will drafting, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trust creation/administration and Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax mitigation.
We offer a free initial no obligation discussion to help you get an idea of the proceedings and to decide what cost arrangement is best for you. Full details are on our Payment Options for Non-Court Matters page.
To help you get a full understanding of your options, please contact a member of our Wills, Tax and Trusts team for a free initial no obligation discussion to ensure you get the outcome that’s best for you, at the cost that’s right for you. Please visit our Payment Options page for more details on costs.
If there is no Will (known as dying intestate) the process is more complicated. The Administration of Estates Act, 1925 sets out who can act as administrator – that is who has the right to deal with the affairs of the person who has died. The administrator will usually be a close relative of the person who has died, if there is one. There may be more than one person who has an equal right to do this.
Anyone who has this right can apply to the probate registry for a grant of letters of administration. This is an official document issued by the Court, which allows administrators to administer the estate.
In some cases, for example, when the person who benefits is a child, the law requires more than one person to act as an administrator.
Where there is more than one administrator, they must work together to decide matters between them. Disagreements can cause expensive delays.
A Grant is not always needed, for example, if the person who has died:
- has less than £5000 in total
- owned everything jointly with someone else
In other cases, some financial organisations, such as banks, may agree to pay funds without a Grant – it is always worth asking.
Usually a Grant will be required when the person who has died left:
- more than £5,000
- Stocks or Shares
- a house or land
- certain insurance policies
Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can take a long time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year, perhaps longer if things are not straightforward. Many organisations may be involved in the process e.g. banks, building societies, insurance companies and HM Revenue & Customs.
The estate cannot be dealt with until all claims to it have been received. Individuals have six months from the date of the Grant to make claims against the estate.
Other things that may affect the time taken are:
- whether the financial affairs of the person who died were in order
- what the person who died owned and where it is
- whether the person who died had an interest in a business or in a farm
- what the Will or rules in intestacy say
- whether there are any legal disputes (claims against the estate or claims by the estate)
- whether Inheritance Tax needs to be paid and
- making sure that all HM Revenue & Customs files are closed and that matters relating to income tax, benefits agencies and pensions have been sorted out
Agreements between family members, beneficiaries, or Executors / administrators, can also delay matters.
The loss of a close friend or family member is a traumatic experience. You may not feel ready to deal with all the complexities of administering the estate. Our specialised team of probate solicitors provide either a complete service from start to finish, or can advise on particular aspects which may include:
- advice for Executors / Administrators on their responsibilities and personal liabilities
- tracing / informing beneficiaries
- obtaining correct information to satisfy HM Revenue & Customs requirements
- agreeing valuations of property with the District Valuer to avoid penalties and finalising the Inheritance Tax position with HM Revenue & Customs
- completion of Inland Revenue Accounts within the prescribed timeframe to avoid unnecessary interest and penalties
- advise and claim relief where possible to mitigate any Inheritance Tax liability
- advise and assist where there is no Will and a person dies Intestate
- Inheritance Tax planning, including Deeds of Variation or Disclaimers to reduce the Inheritance Tax liability or redirect gifts made on a person’s death
- advise on issues such as contentious probate or a contested Will, including the validity of a Will, a claim against an estate by a disappointed beneficiary or any other difficulties arising in the administration of an estate
Where there is a Will and we have been appointed executors, we will deal with the general administration of the estate keeping all parties updated with the progress being made.
Executors / Administrators are fully entitled to obtain legal advice and, if they wish, to instruct solicitors to act for them. The costs are an administration expense and can be paid from the estate.
Our fees will be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case and are usually based solely upon the time spent by the Probate Team on the case. We will always provide a written estimate and in some cases may be able to agree a fixed fee.