Owen White & Catlin Probate Solicitors
We understand that the loss of a relative or loved one is a difficult time. We know that the process of dealing with the things the deceased leaves behind (known as their estate), can be complex and onerous. That is why our Probate Solicitors always deal with the process of administering estates sensitively and with care, providing advice and delivering a service tailored to the specific needs of our clients.
Below we provide a brief overview of Probate. If you would like more information or to talk about how we can help, please contact us.
Our Overview of Probate
What is Probate?
The term is often used to refer to the entire process of dealing with a deceased’s estate, from applying to the court for the right to administer the estate, to making sure the deceased’s assets are distributed to the right people. More accurately, Probate is the process of being given the legal right to deal with the things a deceased person leaves behind.
To start the process, the first thing that needs to be done is to find out if there is a Will. If there is, it should be read promptly, initially to see if there are any special instructions concerning the funeral. The Will should also name the people who the deceased wishes to be appointed as Executors. The Executors are responsible for administering the estate in accordance with the instructions set out in the Will.The executors apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. The Grant of Probate gives them the legal authority to deal with the estate, such as accessing the bank accounts, encashing investments, selling the house and discharging any liabilities.
However, if the deceased did not make a Will the Intestacy Rules will apply. The Rules set out who is to inherit the assets and that person or people will be appointed as the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative will apply to the court for the right to administer the estate by obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration. They must then administer the estate in accordance with the Intestacy Rules found in Part 4 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925.
What is the Process of Probate?
The Executor or Personal Representative (where there is no will) has the following duties and responsibilities:
- Obtaining valuations of the assets and liabilities of the estate;
- Calculating whether any Inheritance Tax is due;
- Completing an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Inheritance Tax account;
- Settling Inheritance Tax liabilities;
- Applying to the Probate Regstry for a Grant of Probate (where there is a will) or Letters of Administration (where there is no will);
- Collecting in the assets of the estate and discharging its debts;
- Distributing the assets according to the Will or the Intestacy Rules, after a specific amount of time has lapsed (usually at least six months from the Grant of Probate);
- Preparing the estate accounts.
It’s important to bear in mind that claims can be brought against Executors or Personal Representatives who act in a way that constitutes a breach of duty or trust, or violate their duties . If successful, the Executor or personal representative will be held personally financially liable for any loss they caused. This is one of many reasons why it is wise to have the assistance of an expert solicitor when applying for Probate.
In some cases, a Trust may arise under the terms of the Will or Intestacy. Some Trusts last for many years during which time you will need both legal and financial advice from an independent financial adviser.
Why Choose Owen White & Catlin?
Owen White & Catlin have solicitors who are members of STEP (the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners) and Solicitors for the Elderly. Full members of STEP are recognised as being the most experienced and senior practitioners in the field of Trusts and Estate Administration. Some of our solicitors have also attended the Cruse Bereavement Care course, which has equipped our team with the tools required to ensure our clients are treated with understanding and empathy at what is often a very difficult time.
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Contact our Probate Solicitors in London, Surrey and Middlesex
Established in 1921, Owen White & Catlin have been providing services throughout South West London, Surrey and Middlesex for many years. All our offices are staffed by teams of expert solicitors and support staff, making it easy for you to get in touch when you need us. Contact us using our online