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Wills, Probate & Estate Planning

Probate and Estate Administration Solicitors

The death of a loved one is naturally a difficult time.  We know that you may be feeling overwhelmed and it is likely that you will have many questions about what happens next. We have assisted many generations of families when it comes to structuring and distributing estates with professionalism, compassion and understanding.

Whether the estate is large or small we can help with the legal process in the most efficient way possible. We believe that our role is not limited to dealing with the legal process of administering an estate but also includes providing guidance and practical advice to those who need the support.

Our Probate and Estate Administration Solicitors can help you if any matter of this nature including, but not limited to the following:

  • Advising on the terms of the Will
  • Advising on the Intestacy provisions if there is not a valid Will
  • Explaining the role and duties of the Executors
  • Gathering relevant details in relation to the estate
  • Assisting with any foreign aspects
  • Preparing the Inheritance Tax (IHT) account
  • Maximising any Inheritance Tax (IHT) reliefs that may be available
  • Obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
  • Dealing with all taxes that are connected with the Estate Administration to include Capital Gains Tax (CGT), Income Tax (IT) or Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), for example
  • Application for a Grant of Representation only
  • Preparing Deeds of Variation to alter the distribution of the estate if required
  • Preparing Estate Accounts
  • Distributing the estate

Here, we answer some of the questions that we are often asked.  If you would like any further information or wish to discuss your situation with us, do contact a member of our team.


Probate and Estate Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between probate and estate administration?

There can be some clarification required here, particularly if you have not been through this before.

The term probate is a commonly used term which technically forms part of the estate administration process.  The terms denotes the application for the Grant of Representation, which will either be a Grant of Probate if there is a Will or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there is no Will.  Once granted by the Court, this formal document gives the legal representatives the right to deal with the estate.

Estate administration means managing a deceased person’s estate, making any legal and tax arrangements before distributing the estate according to the Will, if there is one.

While probate is not always required, administration of estates must always be completed.

What is a Grant of Representation?

A Grant of Representation is most commonly either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. It provides evidence that the Executor or Administrator has legal authority to manage the estate.

The Executor has some legal authority to manage the estate from the time the individual has passed away.  Without a Will in place, the Administrators appointed under a Grant Letters of Administration would only have permission once the Grant has come through.

What is the role of the Executor or Administrator?

Prior to applying for the Grant, the Executor or Administrator will need to:

  • Calculate the value of the estate and submit the necessary accounts to the Inland Revenue.
  • Complete Inheritance Tax forms and determine whether any Inheritance Tax will be due if the estate exceeds the threshold, or if any gifts have been made in the preceding seven years. This will be a complex calculation and will need to take into account any allowable deductions and reliefs.

Once probate has been acquired, the Executor or Administrator is then able to administer the estate, which will involve several duties including, but not limited to:

  • Registering the Grant with the relevant organisations and institutions in order to gain access of the assets. This will include:
    • Bank and building societies
    • Insurance policies
    • Shares and investments
    • Inland Revenue
  • Making arrangements for the sale or transfer of any property.
  • Settling any outstanding payments that are required from the estate, for example any debts, funeral payments, Income Tax, Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax.

Once these matters are resolved, as Executor or Administrator, you will then be required to distribute the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries as specified in the Will, if one is present.

When is probate not needed?

Probate is frequently required for the administration of a person’s estate, and some institutions require a Grant of Representation no matter the size of the estate.  You may find, however, that you do can manage the estate without probate if the following situations apply:

  • The person owned the assets in their estate jointly with another person and so they will automatically pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner. Unless jointly owned, a Grant will always be required when property is involved.
  • The person has a "small estate"- while there is no specific amount that constitutes a small estate and this will vary from institution to institution, this can range from between £10,000 to £50,000. We would always recommend you discuss this with the institution in question as they may have their own limits and could be flexible depending on the situation.
  • The person was insolvent.

Can probate be done without a solicitor?

While probate and estate administration can be done without a solicitor, we would always recommend that legal advice is sought for several reasons:

  • The calculations involved in the Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax requirements will be complex and without specific knowledge could be incorrectly completed, or exemptions or allowances may not be correctly claimed.
  • Using experienced professionals for necessary documentation to apply for the Grant of Representation will avoid any issues or mistakes, which can lead to delays in the future.
  • Should any disputes arise in the proceedings, for example, if a beneficiary disputes the validity of the Will, your legal representative will be in a position to help resolve these.

There are also certain situations that can create a more complex situation requiring a unique set of skills, for example:

  • Where the individual had foreign assets- the probate requirements and distribution of these assets will be determined by the jurisdiction of the country in question.
  • The individual owned a business or was a partner or director of a business.
  • The individual was the beneficiary of a Trust or there was a Trust in their own Will.

Using a Probate and Estate Administration Solicitor can assist in minimising any risk of errors and will also remove the burden and time required from your shoulders.

What is Grant Only probate?

As explained above, probate and estate administration can be a complicated process and one that would benefit from legal assistance.

However, if the estate is relatively straight forward but a Grant of Representation is still required, you may find it useful for us to obtain the Grant on your behalf for you to then manage the estate administration independently.

We offer a particular service in which we will draft the paperwork and apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration and, once received, we pass the document over to you.

How long does probate and estate administration take?

This will vary depending on the size of the estate and your particular circumstances as every situation is unique.

Generally speaking, an application for a Grant of Probate can take around four to six weeks.  When dealing with the full administration of the estate, this could take in the region of six to nine months, but occasionally longer depending on the circumstances.

How much does probate and estate administration cost?

We are able to make applications for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or Grant Only probate for a fixed fee.  Please see our Estate Administration costs page.

As demonstrated, there are many responsibilities involved in being an Executor or an Administrator at an already difficult time.  The role can be time consuming and confusing depending on the size and complexity of the estate and we know you will be wishing to proceed with matters as efficiently and swiftly as possible.

Contact our Probate and Estate Solicitors

We are on hand to support you with your questions or with any part of the probate and estate administration duties.  If you require any assistance get in touch with one of our Probate and Estate Administration Solicitors from one of our offices in  AndoverRomseySalisburyTotton and Witney. You can contact the team by using the Contact Form, emailing or calling your local office: