Plymouth Probate Solicitors’ pledge to bereaved families

There have never been as many different ways to administer the estate of a deceased person, as there are currently. There are internet companies, organisations such as the Co-op, Banks and Building Societies, as well as traditional Solicitors’ firms who offer advice and services on what to do when a loved one passes away and how best to administer the estate.

However, bereaved families are urged to take their time and look into the various options available before rushing into anything.

That is the advice from Samantha Buckthought, Head of the Wills & Trust Department of Wolferstans, Solicitors, one of Plymouth’s leading firms with one of the largest private client teams in the area.

She says “It is a complete minefield for bereaved families to know where to start when they are grieving and faced with tax documentation, paperwork, bills arriving and various different copies of Wills. It is a difficult time, and there is an awful lot to cope with”.

Families can be confused by the vast range of options available, but often the service that they are being offered is not a quality service, or is very costly.

She added “There is no obligation on any family to use a Solicitor to administer a deceased person’s estate. However, I recommend that families look closely at what they are being offered by any provider before they proceed. Often, probate services that are offered are dealt with at a distance, without you ever meeting face to face the person dealing with your case. Sometimes the provider is not able to offer all of the services that you need – for example, they may be able to collect in assets and pay the bills, but they may not be able to see the bigger picture and offer the more detailed tax advice or look at your family as a whole to help you plan for the future.”

She also stated “It is understandable that families will think of the costs of administering an estate as one of the first hurdles, and I have come across many families who have chosen to administer an estate themselves. Whilst that is entirely appropriate for the right case, there is no substitute for obtaining informed, no obligation legal advice first to ensure that everything is looked at in detail. After all, it is not necessarily what you know you need to do, it is what you don’t know that you don’t know. For example, I recently had a discussion with a lady who had forgotten to claim important Inheritance Tax reliefs that were available, meaning that she was faced with a very large Inheritance Tax bill, when there should have been no tax to pay. Opting for the cheapest option in that scenario, can ultimately prove very costly. In this scenario we can assist just in relation to the aspects of the administration that the family wants help with, often for a fixed fee.”

Samantha also urges families to read the small print of documentation before they sign up with anyone offering a probate service. She comments that traditionally Solicitors’ firms are seen as expensive for the administration of estates, but I have found other organisations such as Banks and Building Societies usually charge a percentage of the value of the estate, which is often considerably higher than our charges for an estate administration. Often they are also not carrying out exactly what you want to happen”.

However, she cautions against simply approaching any legal firm. She adds “It is important to choose a specialist. Families should look for firms and members of STEP (The Society for Trusts and Estates Practitioners), Solicitors for the Elderly, or the Law Society Private Client Section. They should also look for firms who have a specialist department carrying out this work and a history of administering estates. She added “I am very proud to head up the Department at Wolferstans which boasts members of all of those specialist organisations, and a team of 12 specialist lawyers who are very experienced in dealing with deceased’s families and assisting with their affairs. The majority of our clients approach us because they have used us before and know that we provide a specialist, high quality service, at a competitive price. We have been providing legal services to families in Plymouth for over 200 years, and we have every intention to continue into our next bicentenary by carrying on that tradition.

Samantha said “We work very hard for our clients to ensure the best possible result, not just for the families in front of us, but also for their future generations, and this is very important to us. We assist in the administration of estates from very small, straight-forward estates, up to estates worth multi million pounds, with complicated agricultural issues, business related issues, and complex families”.

Wolferstans are launching their ‘Probate Pledge’ which Samantha explains is “where we ensure that the work that we do is based on four main principles:

  1. You will always see a qualified lawyer face to face who will manage your case;
  2. The lawyer will always be at least a member of STEP, Solicitors for the Elderly or the Law Society Private Client Section;
  3. You will be offered a range of services to suit you – from simply obtaining the Grant of Probate to a full administration of the estate; and
  4. You will be offered a range of flexible funding options including fixed fees.”

She added “No two families are the same, so it is not a question of “one size fits all”. We can ensure that what a family is being offered suits them”.

She also added “In many cases, the family wish to deal with a lot of administration themselves, but we can still assist in relation to the tax paperwork and obtaining the Grant of Probate, where needed, for a fixed fee”.

She concludes ; “Our pledge to the families of Plymouth is that Wolferstans will always provide them with a level of service that is right for them in administering a deceased person’s estate, and I urge them to take the time to have an initial no obligation discussion with a lawyer to consider all of their options before acting too quickly.”

For further information, contact Samantha on :

Telephone: 01752 292216Telephone Assistant: 01752 292221E-mail:

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