For all family matters,
When someone close to you dies, somebody has to deal with their "estate", including their money, property and personal belongings. This can be a daunting task when you are grieving the loss of a loved one.
At Atkins Hope, we provide specialist advice and representation to the family and friends of deceased people, whether they left a Will or not. We want to help take the weight off your shoulders as much as possible and minimise the stress of the situation. Our team of experienced probate solicitors can provide you with expert advice and progress your case efficiently and sensitively.
Our highly skilled probate team is led by Tina Chan, a solicitor with nearly 20 years’ experience and a member of STEP (the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners).
For sensible, practical advice at this difficult time, get in touch with one of our probate solicitors by giving us a ring on 0208 680 5018 or by filling in our online enquiry form.
What is probate?
A person's estate is considered to be made up of the money, property and any possessions they had at the time of their death. The probate process involves collecting any money that is owed, settling any debts due (including outstanding taxes) and dividing the estate amongst the respective Beneficiaries.
All assets (including property) in an estate will remain frozen until the Probate Registry gives the authority (via a document know as a Grant of Representation) to the individual(s) nominated in your Will, the "Executors". If you have no Will, then it is up to the most appropriate member of the family member to act on behalf of the estate.
If there is a Will, the estate will pass to the people named in the Will. If there is no Will, certain rules known as the Rules of Intestacy will apply.
The Grant of Representation
To be able to start the probate process, you must obtain a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry. The type of application you make will depend on whether your loved one left a valid Will or not.
If you have been appointed an Executor by your loved one under a valid Will, you should apply for a Grant of Probate.
If there is no Will, it is invalid or it does not appoint named Executors, you should apply for Letters of Administration to become what is called an “Administrator”.
Grants of Probate
You can apply for a Grant of Probate if you have been named as an Executor under a Will. You will need the deceased’s original Will (as well as any codicils) to apply.
If the value of the deceased’s estate is over £5,000, there is a fee of £215 to apply for probate. There is no fee if the estate’s value is under £5,000.
Once you have received the Grant of Probate, you will be authorised to administer the deceased’s estate, including selling property, paying debts and distributing inheritance to the Beneficiaries. We can provide professional support and guidance throughout the process, as well as obtaining the Grant of Probate on your behalf.
Letters of Administration
You will need to apply for Letters of Administration if:
- The deceased did not leave a Will
- There is a Will but it isn’t legally valid
- There is a valid Will but it does not name any Executors
While a deceased testator can appoint anyone to become an Executor (including friends), only the deceased’s next of kin can apply to become an Administrator. Usually this is the deceased’s spouse or civil partner or a close relative. Unmarried partners are unfortunately not allowed to apply for Letters of Administration.
Once you have been granted Letters of Administration, you will take on the same role as if you were an Executor of the estate.
We can provide clear advice about whether you can apply to become an Administrator as well as handling the application process on your behalf.
Whether you are an Executor or the next of kin, we can provide practical guidance to help you deal with the administration of someone's estate. We can help you determine the size of an estate for Probate and Inheritance Tax purposes. We can prepare an application for the Grant of Representation on your behalf and help you lodge the required forms with HM Revenue & Customs and collect monies due to the estate and settle any outstanding debts.
We can arrange the transfer or sale of any shares and work with our residential property team to handle the sale of any property or land owned by the deceased.