What do Probate Solicitors ACTUALLY do?

By Laura Brydon, Head of the Wills, Trusts & Probate Department

When a person dies, the administration of their estate is the legal process of ascertaining all of the assets and liabilities, settling all liabilities and allocating all their remaining assets, property and money to the correct Beneficiaries.

You do NOT need a solicitor to carry out the administration of the estate. But doing it yourself can prove time-consuming and costly if mistakes are made that could otherwise have been avoided. It could take many hours of administration, in some cases a year (or longer) to complete, depending on the assets and liabilities in the estate and the complexity of the estate.

Some people like to oversee the administration process themselves. Others find it draining, mentally and emotionally, and prefer to instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf.

In our experience, it is not a task you should enter into without giving it a lot of thought. You may already be struggling at a time which is extremely emotional and stressful. Make a mistake and you could be held legally and, potentially, financially responsible.

For complete peace of mind, we would advise instructing a solicitor to deal with the administration on your behalf as they will take on the day-to-day responsibility and ensure that your liability as Executor/Administrator is protected.

If you feel as though you would benefit from expert assistance, our Probate Solicitors boast a wealth of experience and regularly resolve complex issues surrounding the administration of Estates – both where there is a Will and where the deceased died Intestate, without a Will.

What do Probate Solicitors do?

When someone passes away and leaves a correctly-drafted and executed Will, the document details who has been appointed as Executor/s to ensure the deceased’s wishes are actioned on their behalf. This role often falls to a family member or loved one.  It may be necessary to obtain a Court Order, called a “Grant of Probate”, to allow the Executor/s to fulfil the wishes of the deceased.

When someone passes away Intestate, without a Will, the Law determines who is eligible to inherit the estate and who is authorised to act as Administrator of the estate.  It may be necessary to obtain a Court Order, called a Grant of Letters of Administration, to allow the Administrator/s to administer the estate.

It is a Probate Solicitor’s job to help and support the Executors/Administrators so they can carry out this task according to the Law.

 Tasks carried out by our Probate Solicitors include: 

  • Identify and secure estate assets
  • Pay final bills or outstanding debts
  • Collect proceeds from life insurance policies
  • Deal with Government/Private Pension Companies
  • Obtain property value appraisals
  • If a property is being sold, deal with the marketing and sale
  • Prepare and file all documents required by the Probate Registry
  • Determine if Estate or Inheritance Tax is due and, if so, ensure it is paid
  • Resolve any Income Tax  matters
  • Manage the Estate checking account
  • Transfer any assets in the deceased’s name that are being retained to the Beneficiaries
  • Make a final distribution of assets/capital to the Beneficiaries
  • Manage the transfer/sale of any business interests

A caring approach to Probate and Estate Administration

We sympathetically and successfully handle hundreds of Probates every year – and each one is unique.

Typically, our involvement depends on how much control the Executor/s wish to have during the Estate Administration process.

Some people want to handle as much as they can themselves. In cases like this we provide a Grant Only service, where we obtain the Grant of Probate/Grant of Letters of Administration on behalf of the Executor/Administrator. They are then free to carry out their duties with us still available to assist, if needs be, as they finalise the administration.

If you do not want the stress or hassle, we can take care of everything – known as a Full Administration. In this instance, we are instructed to deal with all matters on behalf of the Executors/Administrators.

No matter what advice or level of assistance you need, we adopt a ‘hand-holding’ approach to guide you through what can be a highly emotional time. If you would like to discuss any aspect, please call 0191 5666 500 for a friendly and informal discussion.

An expert team dedicated to your journey

As the Head of our Wills, Trusts and Probate Department, I am responsible for all matters relating to the complex area of Probate. My role is to ensure we always adopt a compassionate and sensitive approach to each case.

Every member of our five-strong team is trained to provide clear and cost-effective advice, so you fully understand what is going on at every stage.

On a personal level, I am proud to be a Member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), with Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) status. To further strengthen the service we offer, myself and Solicitor Helen Davidson are Full Accredited Members of The Association of Lifetime Lawyers (previously known as Solicitors for the Elderly), having successfully attained the Older Client Law in Practice (OCLP) Award. This prestigious status recognises our expertise in supporting older and vulnerable people, as well as their families and carers.

Supported by Paralegals Janine Anderson and Elle Dick, the team are all passionate about providing exemplary client care. We have the knowledge and experience to take on any Wills, Trusts and Probate matters, including the administration of estates, drafting of Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection Deputyship Applications, Trust matters and Conveyancing associated with the same.

The loss of a family member or close loved one can be one the most stressful events you will ever face in life. We hope our empathetic and friendly approach offers the support you need at every step of the journey.

You may be about to take that first step by making a Will to protect your family’s future. If that is the case, we can ensure it is properly drafted to make the eventual administration of your estate as straightforward and tax efficient as possible.

If you are currently dealing with the Probate process as an Executor/Administrator, we can offer clear and practical help for all aspects of the Law – including Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and property matters.

If we can be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and informal discussion. We are here to help and support you.

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