Frank Smith & Co Solicitors are aware that administering an estate comes at a time of grief and high emotion, and we aim to reduce the administrative burden to you at this time as much as possible. We fully support our clients through this difficult process whilst advising you with speed, fairness and sensitivity. From the outset we aim to give you a clear time frame of how long the matter should take and will keep you and any beneficiaries updated throughout as appropriate.
Probate is the name given to the process of winding up someone’s estate after their death, either in accordance with their Will (if they made one) or intestacy laws (if they did not).
If you have been appointed as the Executor of somebody’s Will, you will be responsible for administering their estate. The Executor generally must complete five main tasks:
- Sorting through the person’s finances, possessions and property to determine the value of their estate;
- Completing a tax return for HMRC and pay any tax due;
- Apply to the probate registry for formal authority to administer the estate;
- Paying any outstanding bills or debts with the balance of the estate;
- Distributing whatever remains of the estate to the Beneficiaries.
In many cases, you will need a Grant of Probate to show you have the authority to do these things. Financial institutions such as banks, building societies and mortgage companies will need to see this document before they are able to deal with the accounts of the person who has died.
A Grant of Probate is not always necessary as some financial institutions will allow you to access the accounts of the person who has died without one. This is usually when the balance of the accounts in question is below a certain amount (usually £15,000 – £25,000). To find out if you need to apply for a Grant of Probate you can speak with us for an initial, no obligation, consultation.
If there is no Will, the process is more complicated. An application for a grant of letters of administration will need to be made through the courts. This process will determine who the administrator of the estate will be and is determined by a set order of priority as is who will benefit from the estate.
At our initial meeting we will discuss the assets and liabilities of the estate and the amount of work you wish to complete yourself in order to provide you with a quote for completing the work. If during the course of the administration, it becomes clear that there is more work involved than initially anticipated, we will always discuss this with you before going ahead.
It is usual for a probate matter to take around 6-12 months from the date of death to completion. However, in more complex cases this can be a year or even longer and in very straightforward cases this can be as little as six weeks. This is very much dependent on the complexity of the assets involved, for example if there are multiple shareholdings or assets overseas, there is going to be far more work involved than if there is just one property in joint names and a couple of bank accounts. We do however pride ourselves in dealing with estates as efficiently as possible for our clients where timescales are within our control and not dependent on third parties.