Our Private Client team can assist with all aspects of dealing with the estate after a person has passed away. We understand that this is often a difficult and very distressing time for family and friends.
Some estates are very straightforward to deal with and there is little in the way of administration that needs to done. This is often the case where there is a surviving spouse and all the assets of the estate are in joint names, or perhaps all the funds are held in bank accounts. However, often a person's affairs will be much more complicated, either because there are many different assets, or because assets are held abroad, or held in trust. It may be, particularly in cases where there is no Will, that the distribution of the estate is complicated or disputed. Our Private Client team is experienced in dealing with these and many other aspects of estate administration.
Many people have heard of 'Probate' but do not necessarily know when it is relevant. Whether the person who has died has left a valid Will does not determine whether it will be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate. This will depend on the assets which make up the estate and sometimes on who is going to inherit the estate. Our Private Client team can advise on whether a Grant of Probate is required, what type of application is necessary and other matters, such as any queries over the validity of the Will.
Inheritance Tax is also often a concern and we can advise and assist Executors to complete the HMRC forms that are required, advise on claims for the transfer of the Nil Rate Band on the second death of a married couple, (which has been allowed since 2007) and advise on the payment of Inheritance Tax where applicable. Where a married couple made Wills designed to save Inheritance Tax, often there is a Discretionary Trust over the estate of the first to die and we can advise on the various options available to the surviving spouse.
There can also be situations where Inheritance Tax is payable on the estate but a post-death variation of the distribution of the estate could reduce the amount of tax, or there may be some other reason to vary the estate. We are able to advise on this and prepare the required legal documentation. Where the person who died has left part of or the entire estate to charity, we are able to deal with the relevant charities and ensure that their specific requirements with regard to the administration are complied with.
Being an Executor can be a daunting and very time consuming role and many people find it difficult to devote the time to administration, particularly if they have work or family commitments. They may live a long way from the property in the estate or perhaps live abroad making it much more difficult to deal with the estate. Whether the person who has died made a Will or not, it is necessary to establish the value of the estate, settle any debts, ensure that any tax matters are dealt with and obtain the necessary authority, such as a Grant of Probate, in order to reach the point where the Executors are ready to distribute the estate.
We can manage all aspects of the estate on behalf of the Executors or we can assist them with those parts of the estate which they may find more difficult. We can assist with insuring the property, clearing its contents or, if it is tenanted, we can liaise with the managing agents or tenants as required. We work closely with our Property Conveyancing department which can deal with the sale of an estate property on behalf of the Executors. We can then collect in the assets of the estate and distribute the estate at the end of the administration.
Where we are appointed as the Executors of the estate, we will deal with all aspects of the estate, liaising with any co-Executors as necessary and we can also deal with matters such as registering the death and arranging the funeral, where of course we would consult with any family members where appropriate.
Many people are worried about what Solicitors charge for dealing with the administration of an estate. Although it is difficult accurately to estimate the costs of a matter, our costs are straightforward and transparent and we would be happy to discuss these with an Executor before proceeding to deal with the estate.
For further information please contact the Private Client team on 0118 958 9711 or by email to [email protected] who will be happy to put you in touch with one of our Solicitors and we shall do everything we can to help throughout a difficult time.