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When a loved one dies leaving a Will, its contents should state who can apply for Probate as well as what is to happen to the deceased’s estate, which is generally made up of their money, property and possessions.

What is a Grant of Representation?

A Grant of Representation is a legal document that the UK Probate Registry issues to authorise a person to administer the deceased person’s estate. When there is a Will the Grant of Representation is known as a ‘Grant of Probate’. If there is no Will, it is known as a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’.

Who can apply for a Grant of Probate?

You can apply for a Grant of Probate if you’re named in the deceased person’s Will (or ‘Codicil’) as an ‘executor’. An executor is responsible for the estate administration of the person who has died. In the normal course, the person nominated should be advised of their appointment around the time that the Will is drafted but this is not essential.

Find the original Will

If you have been nominated to act as a deceased person’s executor you need the original Will to be able to apply for probate.

The person who has died should have previously informed all of their nominated executors where to find the original Will. Most Wills can be found be at the deceased person’s house or with the solicitor who drafted it.

We may be able to help with the search for original Wills particularly where the firm who drafted the Will is no longer around. We can use our expertise to search against a government website that will highlight any relevant former trading name or company number that should highlight the relevant successor practice.

What if there is more than one Will?

If there is more than one Will, only the most recent Will is valid. It is wise not to destroy copies of any earlier Wills until you’ve received probate.

What if the Will names multiple executors?

If more than one person is named as an executor, all of the nominated executors must agree who makes the application for probate. Up to four executors can be named on the probate application. If only one executor applies for probate they will need to prove that they tried to contact all of the other executors named in the Will.

What should you do if you do not want to be an executor?

The Will may name a replacement executor for someone who becomes ‘unwilling or unable’ to deal with the estate. If you are a named and you do not wish to apply for probate you should do one of the following:

  • Formally renounce your right to be an executor by completing a Deed of Renunciation
  • Reserve your right to apply for probate at a later date leaving another nominated executor to apply for probate in the first instance. This is known as holding ‘power reserved’.
  • Nominate an Attorney to make the application for probate on your behalf. The Attorney will also be required to deal with the administration of the estate once probate has been granted.

What should you do if you are unable to apply for probate?

A replacement executor should apply for probate if the person nominated is unable to apply because they have themselves passed away or if they have lost mental capacity.

How can our Wills & probate solicitors help?

Our wills and probate solicitors are here to offer expert legal advice and services to clients from any of our offices in regard to all aspects of the probate process.

Probate, estates, trusts and estate administration, is complex. You will need a private client representative from a law firm on your side to talk you through the detail. Our solicitors are wills and probate specialists with expertise in several areas including: inheritance tax, tax planning, trusts, property law and family law.

At Eric Robinson our private client solicitors can offer fully authorised and regulated wills and probate advice to help you deal with all aspects of the UK probate process. Whether it is establishing whether a Grant of Representation is required, arranging valuations, drafting probate application papers, gathering in assets, settling liabilities, establishing trusts, dealing with tax planning or any Capital Gains Tax, or dealing with the distribution of the deceased’s remaining assets, we will be on hand with our expertise.

Our probate solicitors are experts and pride themselves on client care and they are experienced in sensitively assisting families and individuals with the post-death affairs and estates of loved ones. We have a team of probate lawyers across our offices who are ready to assist and provide advice with any probate problem or issues.

We can give you comprehensive legal advice on the tax implications of administering an estate, and we’ll help you set up trusts and deal with variations to a Will after death. We offer fully authorised and regulated estate administration and probate services to families and individuals across England and Wales and we have over 50 years of experience on our side.

Contact us today, we have solicitor offices in: Southampton (Hedge End & Bitterne), WinchesterLondon (Richmond)Chandlers Ford and Lymington.

What is the cost of estate administration?

The exact cost of our Estate Administration service will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and the level of assistance required.  We offer a range of services from taking on full responsibility for administering an Estate to providing advice on a specific issue or dealing with a specific task.

Where we are instructed to manage and process an Estate Administration from start to finish, our charge is based on a fixed fee of 1.9% of the total gross value of the Estate.  For example, if the Estate has a value of £350,000, our fee would be £6,650 plus VAT (£1,330).  We offer an initial meeting charged at £200 plus VAT (£40) for up to an hour to discuss the Probate process and your requirements.  This charged would be waived if we are instructed to act and our fixed fee above is charged.

This service would cover the following:

  • Valuing the Estate and ascertaining date of death assets and liability values by contacting the third parties with whom the deceased dealt;
  • Assisting and advising on any professional valuations for property, investments, chattels, works of art etc
  • Considering and applying all exemptions and reliefs for Inheritance Tax which may apply;
  • Completing the relevant HM Revenue and Customs and Inheritance Tax forms;
  • Preparing tax calculations and advising on the available options to pay the tax due and any interest implications;
  • Liaising with the District Valuer;
  • Preparing the relevant application form and Legal Statement for the Grant to be signed by the Executors;
  • Submitting the application to a Probate Court and dealing with any queries raised;
  • Obtaining the Grant of Probate, advising when it is issued and producing certified copies;
  • Arranging payment of any further Inheritance Tax due;
  • Paying debts (excluding mortgages);
  • Finalising utility bills;
  • Identification of items specifically gifted and transferring them into the name of the beneficiary (excluding legal transfer work);
  • Paying cash gifts detailed in the Will and obtaining receipts for the Executors as proof of payment;
  • Advising on the requirement of Section 27 Trustee Act Notices;
  • Discussing with the Executors and beneficiaries the transfer or encashment of holdings in any investment and the Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax implications of such;
  • Dealing with Assents of properties to trustees or to beneficiaries;
  • Advising on Deeds of Appropriation (if required);
  • Collecting all of the Estate assets, including closure of bank accounts;
  • Undertaking bankruptcy searches for individual beneficiaries;
  • Registering the Estate with HMRC via the Trust Registration Service;
  • Preparing Income Tax returns for the Administration period;
  • Preparing form R185E;
  • Advising on and submitting Corrective Accounts and claims for loss on sale of property/shares;
  • Preparing Estate Accounts as an ongoing process;
  • Preparing Final Estate Accounts for Executor and beneficiary approval;
  • Obtaining formal clearance from HMRC;
  • Arranging final payments due to beneficiaries.

Disbursements to be added to this fee:

  • Probate application fee of £273
  • Land Charges Registry bankruptcy searches (£2 per beneficiary)
  • Approximately £82 to post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (not always applied for)
  • Approximately £110 to post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims (not always applied for)

Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure an efficient process.

Please note that our fixed fee applies to estates with a value of up to £2,000,000, where the deceased was UK domiciled, there are no foreign Wills or assets and this firm is not acting as an Executor.  Our fixed fee is subject to a minimum charge of £6,650 plus VAT (£1,330).   For us to provide an accurate fee estimate in respect of the Estate, you would need to discuss the specific details with one of our specialists.

How long will this take?

On average, our experience suggests that estates are concluded within 6 to 18 months. Typically:

  • Obtaining information to apply for a Grant of Probate takes 8 to 20 weeks;
  • The Grant of Probate application typically has a processing time of between 8 to 16 weeks from the point of submission to the Probate Registry;
  • The process of collecting in assets and paying liabilities is entirely asset specific although most assets can typically be collected in circa 4 to 28 weeks; and
  • Once all assets have been collected and all liabilities paid, final Estate Accounts will be prepared, and once concluded and approved, arrangements will be made for the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. This final stage normally takes in the order of 4 to 8 weeks.

These timescales are on the basis that:

  • There is a valid Will and appointment of Executors;
  • There is no claim brought against the Estate;
  • Where there is a property to sell it sells within an average time scale;
  • The third parties with whom the deceased dealt, correspond within a reasonable timeframe.

Other Fixed Fees Available

Sometimes Executors may wish to instruct us to only obtain a Grant of probate or a Grant of letters of Administration (where there is no Will). We are happy to accept such instructions on the assumption that no inheritance tax is payable. Where all relevant financial information is provided to us by the Personal Representatives we will obtain the Grant for a fixed fee of £2,000 + VAT (£400).  This fixed fee covers the following:

  • An initial meeting to discuss details of the Estate;
  • Consideration of all financial and other information provided;
  • Preparation of the Return of Estate Information form (IHT205) (if required) for approval and signature (however, where the estate requires a full Inheritance Tax Account on form IHT400, which is far more complex, our fixed fee will be £3,500 + VAT (£700));
  • Where form IHT400 is required, submitting this in advance of the probate application to HM Revenue and Customs;
  • Preparing the application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration;
  • Submitting the application to the Probate Registry;
  • Providing the sealed copies of the Grant of Probate to the Personal Representatives.

No other work is included within this fixed fee, leaving you free to obtain all assets, pay all liabilities, settle all taxes due to HMRC and account to the beneficiaries entirely by yourself. Where you do require us to undertake additional work, it will be the subject of an entirely separate and bespoke quotation.

Disbursements with Grant only Fixed Fee Work, will comprise only the Probate application fee of £273 and the cost of any Office Copy Grants you may require at the rate of £1.50 per copy.

Our Wills solicitors are experts in all probate matters and trusts. We understand family wealth and affairs is a sensitive area for every client, and every family situation is different. If you would like to speak to a probate solicitor from our team about an issue you are facing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and contact one of our offices today.

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