Probate and Administration of Estates
When a loved one dies, as well as dealing with grief, you may be faced with trying to manage tax documentation, paperwork, bills arriving and different copies of Wills. It is a difficult time, and there is a lot to cope with.
Probate and estate administration can be a very involved process, which can be confusing and time consuming. Common questions people struggle with include:
- Will Probate be needed?
- How can the house be transferred?
- How do I access any money?
- What do I do about their Pensions and Benefits?
- What will it all cost?
These are just a few of the questions that families are faced with as soon as a loved one passes away.
Wolferstans has one of the largest private client teams in the region and an outstanding reputation for providing a quality service to our clients. We can guide you through every stage of probate and estate administration or assist with a specific matter you need help to deal with.
Our probate and estate administration solicitors are highly experienced and successful in delivering results to clients. We are proud to have members of the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the Law Society Private Client Section and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).
We have the experience to provide clear and pragmatic advice on a range of issues faced by individuals, families, trustees and charities.
Our probate and estate administration solicitors in Plymouth offer:
- Free quotation with a range of pricing options for you to choose from
- A full probate and estate administration service
- A fixed fee “Grant only” option
- Specialist advice from members of Solicitors for the Elderly, STEP and the Law Society Private Client Section
- Sensitivity and compassion
- Plymouth Probate Solicitors Pledge
How our probate and estate administration solicitors can help you
We offer a number of different levels of service to suit you:
- Bereavement Assistance Service
- Application for a Grant of Probate only (non-taxable estate)
- Application for a Grant of Probate only (taxable estate)
- Application for a Grant of Probate only combined with a setting up a Property Trust contained within a Will
- Application for a Grant of Probate only combined with an application for Transferable Nil Rate Band
- Full administration service
- Contentious probate and inheritance disputes
Probate and estate administration FAQs
Where do you start with administering an estate?
When a person dies, a friend or relative has to deal with their affairs. Where do you start?
There are hundreds of questions that run through your mind.
- Where is the Will?
- Do I need probate?
- What do I do about tax?
- Who do I notify – and when?
- Is the house secure?
- What is this form that I have been sent?
Dealing with a deceased person’s estate and assets can be a very time consuming and confusing process, at a time that is difficult and emotional. It often involves numerous different organisations such as banks, building societies, share companies and the Revenue.
We have a skilled specialist team of probate and estate administration solicitors that can take you through the steps you need to take one by one, in a way and at a timescale that suits you. Within the team we have members of Solicitors for the Elderly, STEP, and the Law Society Private Client Section.
We pride ourselves on sensitivity and compassion at what is a difficult time for all concerned. We can assist you with the most straightforward and practical of tasks, up to the most legal and complex.
What is a Grant of Probate?
When someone dies, it is necessary to appoint someone (an Executor) to deal with the assets they leave behind including money, property and personal possessions. The Executor must collect the assets, pay any debts owed by the estate and distribute what is left to those entitled to it.
A Grant of Representation is the Court’s authority to a person or persons to administer a deceased person’s estate. This shows the institutions holding assets for the deceased, to include the banks, that you have the authority to deal with the deceased’s affairs.
It is not always necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation in small estates where there is no property, land or shares or where the assets are all jointly held but we can give guidance as to whether one is required in the particular circumstances of each case.
A Grant of Probate is the document often required in order to administer a deceased person’s estate, when they have left a Will. It is not always required.
If a person has not left a Will, a different Grant would have to be obtained called a Grant of Letters of Administration.
There are many different types of Grant available. Often, for estates of any significant value, a Grant will be needed before the person dealing with the Estate can access funds or carry out the deceased person’s wishes.
What is a Deed of Variation and when is it needed?
Our probate and estate administration solicitors can advise you upon whether a Deed of Variation, which is a document that varies someone’s Will, may be of benefit to you.
This may be for tax saving or other reasons. It may enable you to pass an inheritance on to someone else who requires it more than you.
The rules in relation to this are complex and there is a strict time limit of two years from the date of death.
As such, it is wise to contact us to talk through the options in more detail before proceeding.
Do I need a solicitor for probate and estate administration?
There have never been as many different ways to administer the estate of a deceased personas there are currently, and using a specialist probate and estate administration solicitor is just one of those options.
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.
We advise bereaved families to take their time and look into the various options available before rushing into anything. 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.
Often, probate services that are offered are dealt with at a distance, without you ever meeting face to face with 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.
It is understandable that families will think of the costs of administering an estate as one of the first hurdles. 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.
We would recommend families to read the small print of documentation before they sign up with anyone offering a probate service.
Traditionally solicitors’ firms are seen as expensive for the administration of estates, but other organisations such as Banks and Building Societies usually charge a percentage of the value of the estate, which is often considerably higher than solicitor charges for an estate administration. Often, they are also not carrying out exactly what you want to happen.
Working with reputable probate solicitors means you will be able to get a bespoke service exactly suited to your needs, unlike the one-size-fits-all services offered by many other probate providers. You can also be assured that you are working with legally qualified experts who you can rely on to ensure every detail is handled correctly, even where there are complex matters to deal with.
How do you find a good probate solicitor?
We would always caution against simply approaching any legal firm to handle probate and estate administration for you. With this type of specialist work, it is important to choose a professional with the right training and experience to ensure everything is dealt with properly.
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. You should also look for firms who have a specialist department carrying out this work and a history of administering estates.
Why choose Wolferstans probate and estate administration solicitors in Plymouth?
We have an exceptional and experienced team with collectively over 100 years of experience in all matters relating to Wills and estate administration. We specialise in administering all types of estates, from the most straightforward, to complex, high value estates.
Individual members of the team are skilled in estates which are taxable, have multiple properties, complex family arrangements, businesses and agricultural interests, as well as all types of trusts. We act for executors, or as executors, in estates both where there is a Will, or where someone has died intestate without a Will.
We have many different team members who may work on your matter to ensure that the person with the appropriate level of qualification is carrying out the right work, and to ensure that it is conducted in the most cost-effective way for you.
All of our probate and estate administration team are ultimately supervised by a Partner in the Department, either Samantha Buckthought, Gemma Smith or Martin Weeks.
You can read more about the Partners or any team member by reading their individual biographies here.
The Wolferstans Probate Pledge
Wolferstans are launching their ‘Probate Pledge’ which is where we ensure that the work that we do is based on four main principles:
- You will always see a qualified lawyer face to face who will manage your case;
- The lawyer will always be at least a member of STEP, WIQS or the Law Society Private Client Section;
- 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
- You will be offered a range of flexible funding options including fixed fees.
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.
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.
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 we 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 more information or to arrange a no-obligation appointment with one of our probate and estate administration solicitors, please contact the Client Services team on 01752 292201.
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Wolferstans LLP is a limited liability partnership, registered in England and Wales (registered number OC433921) which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with number 811913. (Plymstock Office SRA number 819159; Plympton Office SRA number 819160). The SRA’s Standards and Regulations can be viewed here. A list of the members of Wolferstans LLP, and of their professional qualifications, is available for inspection at our registered office: 60/66 North Hill Plymouth Devon PL4 8EP. We use the word `partner` to refer to a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications. Data Protection Register Entry Number ZB009475 with an expiry date of 14 March 2022.VAT Registration Number 144043893.