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Probate & Estate Administration Lawyers

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. However, the situation can be especially daunting where you are also tasked with handling the process of probate and estate administration.

If you have been appointed as an executor, or have successfully applied to become an administrator, you will have a variety of responsibilities which need to be addressed. Our expert probate lawyers can step in to support you with the process of estate administration, providing tailored legal advice that is well suited to your circumstances.

Our probate specialists at Bird & Co can provide a full probate and estate administration service, helping to keep the entire process as straightforward as possible, as well as providing general advice to executors and administrators, and dealing with any potential disputes.

Have a question about the probate and estate administration process? Take a look at our FAQs.

Want to chat with one of our friendly probate lawyers? Contact your local Bird & Co office in Grantham, Newark or Lincoln or you can ask us a question.

Why choose Bird & Co Solicitors to help you with probate and estate administration?

With our probate service, we can offer you:

  • Expert guidance from a highly experienced team
  • Plain English explanations so you can make informed decisions
  • Confidence that everything has been thought of
  • Competitive fees
  • A close, personal service from start to finish

Want to know more about the Bird & Co team? Take a look at our people.

Our probate and estate lawyers’ services

Full administration and probate service

When someone passes away, there are several issues which need to be resolved. These matters are usually handled by the executor of the estate (or the administrator where no Will was left behind by the deceased.

Our probate and estate administration lawyers can provide you with a full administration service that helps to keep the entire process as straightforward as possible.

Our administration services include:

  • Providing you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to work on your matter
  • Identifying the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
  • Accurately identifying the type of application to the Probate Register you will require
  • Obtaining the relevant documents required to make the application
  • Completing the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms (if necessary)
  • Drafting a legal statement for you to sign
  • Making the application to the Probate Registry on your behalf
  • Obtaining the grant
  • Collecting and distributing all assets in the estate

Our team can also take other associated matters, such as calculating the Inheritance Tax that is due on an estate.

Executor and administrator advice

Acting as an executor or administrator can be an extremely complicated process and, in many cases, can be very time consuming. As such, we can be on hand to advise you and provide expert guidance on your role as an executor.

We can advise you on making important decisions that are in the best interests of the estate, as well as ensuring that you understand your responsibilities and obligations as an executor or administrator.

Deed of Variation

A Deed of Variation allows beneficiaries to change how an estate is distributed. If this affects the amount of Inheritance Tax payable, HMRC has to be notified. This has to be completed within 2 years of death.

Our team can work alongside you to carefully review your circumstances and whether making a Deed of Variation would be appropriate for your situation. If so, we can then take the necessary steps to ensure that it is efficiently completed and that it is deemed valid for HMRC.

Our probate lawyers’ fees

How much does this service cost?

2.5% of the gross value of the estate plus VAT, i.e. £2,500 plus VAT for every £100,000 of value with a minimum fee of £2,500 plus VAT.

This includes: obtaining the grant, collecting assets and distributing them.

You would also need to pay for the disbursements set out below.

Breakdown of costs:

Minimum legal fees £2,500.00

VAT is payable on top of legal fees (VAT is payable at the prevailing rate which as of 1 October 2023 is 20%)

Disbursements:

  • Probate court fee of £273.00 plus £1.50 per sealed copy.
  • Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches (£2.00 per beneficiary plus VAT).
  • £179 Post in The London Gazette – helps protect against unexpected claims.
  • £150 (approximately) Post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims.

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 a smoother process.

Common questions about probate and estate administration

What is probate?

Probate is the process of administering someone’s estate. This can be according to the terms of a Will, or the rules of intestacy where no valid Will is present.

Someone’s estate is likely to include property, money, and possessions.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is the legal document that confirms that an executor has the authority to administer the estate.

As an alternative, a Grant of Letters of Administration is required where the deceased has not left behind a Will.

Is probate necessary if there is a Will?

In the vast majority of cases, probate will be required when dealing with someone’s estate. There are certain exceptions to this, such as if:

  • The estate is exclusively made up of cash and personal possessions
  • The property in the estate is owned as beneficial joint tenants
  • The property is owned jointly which includes tenants in common, provided your remaining trustee has capacity to appoint a new trustee
  • The estate is insolvent
  • There are certain life insurance policies and pension benefits in the estate

Can a house be sold without probate?

Where the deceased was the sole owner of a property, it is possible to list it on the property market and accept offers before obtaining the Grant of Probate. However, it is not possible to complete the sale until you receive probate.

Who owns a property during probate?

The estate executor or the person who has been granted probate will own the property following someone’s death. While they will not take possession of the title deed, they will have the legal power to sell the property on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

How long does probate usually take?

As can be expected, the time it takes for probate to be completed will be heavily dependent on various factors.

If a valid Will has been left behind, and there are no disputes, an estate can be administered relatively quickly. It normally takes at least four weeks to obtain grant of probate, but currently this is taking more like eight to ten weeks due to various factors beyond our control. From here, the general administration process is likely to take around nine to twelve months.

Do household items go through probate?

Household and personal items do not go through probate unless they have been specifically named in a Will. These are known as specific legacies.

Any items that are not included in a Will can be distributed between beneficiaries and family members however they see fit.

Can you live in a property under probate?

If a property forms part of an estate and you want to move in after probate begins, you will likely need to secure permission from the executor or administrator of the estate to move into it.

What is an executor?

An executor is an individual who is appointed to administer the estate of someone who has died. Multiple executors can be named in a Will, who will act alongside each other to carry out their duties.

Executors will typically:

  • Make sure all property is secured after death
  • Collect all assets and money due to the estate
  • Paying any outstanding taxes and debts
  • Distribute the estate to beneficiaries named in the Will
  • Arrange the funeral (where there are specific instructions to do so)

Can an executor be a beneficiary?

An executor can also be a beneficiary of a Will. This is very common when someone writes their Will, as an executor will often be a close loved one that they trust.

Speak to our probate and estate administration lawyers

Want to chat with one of our friendly probate lawyers? Contact your local Bird & Co office in Grantham, Newark or Lincoln, or you can ask us a question.