When a loved one has passed away and it falls to you to sort out their estate while you are grieving, it is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed. During this difficult time, instructing a specialist solicitor to help you with probate matters sensitively and efficiently can make all the difference.
Our service covers every aspect of the probate and estate administration process, including initially reviewing the Will (if there is one), obtaining Grant of Representation, and ensuring the beneficiaries of the estate receive their inheritance as promptly as possible.
For expert advice from our probate solicitors, get in touch with:
- Liz Middleton at our Harlow and Bishop’s Stortford offices on 01297 439439 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gerry Smith at our Epping office on 01992 561111 or email@example.com
How our probate and estate administration solicitors can help you
Our dedicated team are highly experienced in administering estates of varying degrees of wealth and complexity. Our experience ranges from small and “straightforward” estates to more complex matters involving foreign, business and agricultural assets and their respective tax implications.
We are happy to provide our services during this challenging time, approaching your matter with tact and sensitivity at every step. Our full-solution service includes:
- Providing advice on the probate and estate administration process
- Applying for Grant of Representation for authorisation to deal with the estate – either a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (if there is no Will)
- Providing guidance throughout the valuation of the estate
- Helping you deal with the deceased’s finances, including selling property and paying off debts
- Calculation and payment of Inheritance Tax and filing the tax return with HMRC
- Distributing the estate between the beneficiaries as outlined in the Will or under the Rules of Intestacy (if your loved one died intestate or their Will is invalid)
What is probate and estate administration?
Estate administration refers to the entire process of dealing with a person’s estate, from the moment they pass away to the moment the beneficiaries receive their inheritance.
Technically, probate is the part of the broader estate administration process where you obtain legal authorisation to deal with someone’s estate after they die. However, many people use “probate” to refer to the entire estate administration process.
What happens if someone dies without a Will?
When someone dies without leaving a Will it is called “dying intestate”. This means, instead of the estate being dealt with according to the deceased’s wishes, it will be dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy.
The Rules of Intestacy are strict and sometimes unfair – for example, unmarried partners cannot inherit under the Rules. This method of administration also tends to be more time-consuming and less tax-efficient than if the deceased made a Will.
If your loved one has died without leaving a Will and you are a close relative such as spouse, civil partner or child, you may still be able to administer the estate on their behalf. You will need to apply for Letters of Administration to become an administrator. We can provide in-depth advice about the application process and the subsequent estate administration process.
How long does probate take?
How long probate and estate administration takes depends on your individual circumstances.
For straightforward estates not involving complex matters such as overseas property or agricultural property, the process will usually take about 4-6 months.
If there are any disputes, for example, if someone challenges the validity of the Will, the process will likely take longer.
When is probate not required?
In many cases, you will not need to apply for probate if the combined estate is worth less than £5,000. This is because most banks will release small sums of money without a Grant of Representation.
You may also avoid probate in other circumstances such as if all the deceased’s assets were jointly owned with someone else. In this situation, their share will automatically pass to the joint owner.
We can provide clear advice about whether probate is required in your case.
Will challenges and estate disputes
Administering someone’s estate can be a stressful, emotional experience for everyone involved and it is common for disputes to arise between family members. From disagreements about inheritance to issues over how the executors or administrators are handling the estate, without a careful approach, there is a risk relationships could be permanently damaged.
Whether you are concerned about the way a loved one’s estate is being handled, you have been left out of a Will, or you are an executor or administrator facing challenge, we can help. For further information, please visit our Contentious Probate Solicitors page.
Why choose our probate solicitors?
We are a firm of friendly, local solicitors with extensive experience providing probate and estate administration advice to individuals in Harlow, Epping, Bishop’s Stortford and the surrounding areas. Here are just some of the reasons our clients choose to instruct us:
- In-depth legal knowledge – our legal professionals have decades of combined experience. Amongst our talented team, Gerry Smith is a member of STEP (the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners) and Liz Middleton is a member of the Law Society’s Private Client Section.
- Sympathetic, personal service – we don’t take a “one size fits all” approach. We will take the time to get to know you and your late loved one so we can precisely tailor our advice to your individual situation.
- Swift and efficient action – few people enjoy the probate process so we will take all possible steps to resolve your matter as efficiently as possible, ensuring meticulous attention to detail throughout.
- Here for you at all times – you will have a single point of contact with an expert member of our team. We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case, but if you have any questions, you need only to send us an email and we will respond promptly and informatively.
- Welcoming and supportive environment – we are an inclusive law firm. So, if you have any disabilities or individual needs, please get in touch for a confidential discussion about how we can adapt our services for you.
Get in touch with our probate solicitors in Harlow, Epping and Bishop’s Stortford
To set up an initial discussion with one of our expert probate solicitors, get in touch with: