Probate and Estate Administration Solicitors
When a loved one passes away, dealing with their estate can seem like a daunting task. Our highly experienced probate solicitors are here to offer the sensitive, practical support you need to make things easier at this difficult time.
Coronavirus: guidance from our Wills, Trusts and Probate team
In these uncertain times, putting in place plans for the future is more important than ever. Barcan+Kirby’s Wills, Trusts and Probate team is still very much open for business to provide any help you need. We have answered some FAQs here.
Due to the latest government guidelines, our team members are largely working from home with limited days in the offices on a rota basis from 15th June 2020. We are able to offer face-to-face appointments within the offices by appointment only. It is not possible to visit you at home (or in hospitals, care homes and hospices). However, our Business Continuity Plan allows us to use technology to maintain our usual high standards of service.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process of dealing with the affairs of someone who has passed away. It can be a lengthy and sometimes stressful process, placing a lot of responsibility on the person managing the estate.
If you need to administer a loved one’s estate, you will need to apply for the right to do so, either with a grant of probate (if you are named as an Executor in the Will) or Letters of Administration (if there is no Will).
You will then be responsible for various duties, including having the estate valued and selling the deceased’s property if required. You will also need to pay Inheritance Tax where due and distribute any bequests set out in the Will.
How our probate solicitors can help you
You might simply need a little help with the administrative side of things, such as lodging the Will with the local probate office, or making sure the right Inheritance Tax is paid. We can offer the friendly, straightforward guidance you need to ensure your duties as an Executor are carried out properly.
Alternatively, you may want us to take charge of the whole probate process for you. This allows you to focus on grieving and supporting your loved ones, safe in the knowledge that every aspect of probate has been handled the right way, giving you complete peace of mind.
Whatever help and support you need, our considerate, expert probate solicitors are here for you.
Get in touch with our probate solicitors in Bristol
Applications can be made by post or online and will need to fill out a probate application form (PA1) and send this with the appropriate supporting documents.
You will need to include the following with your probate application:
- The original Will
- Any additions to the Will (codicils)
- Two copies of the signed Will and any codicils
- The death certificate (or an interim death certificate from a coroner)
If there is no Will, then you will need to apply for Letters of Administration. The process is essentially the same as applying for grant of probate, although you can only apply by post.
This will depend on how complex the estate is and any specific issues that arise. However, probate will typically take around six to nine months for most straightforward estates.
There is an application fee of £155 when applying for a grant of probate when a solicitor submits the application. A non-professional would pay £215. Estates valued at less than £5,000 are exempt from this fee.
If you wish to prevent probate being granted, you can do so by entering a caveat at your local Probate Registry. This stops a grant from being issued for six months from the date the caveat is entered, unless the caveat is withdrawn or removed before this time. You can renew the caveat as many times as you like, meaning probate can effectively be delayed for a protracted period in certain circumstances, if necessary.
Probate may not be needed if the deceased’s combined assets are worth less than £5,000.
Probate may also not be needed where the deceased’s assets are held jointly with someone else, such as a spouse, who has survived them. For example, if a married couple own their home as joint tenants, when one of them dies, the property will automatically pass to the surviving spouse without the need for probate.
However, in almost all other cases, probate is required. We strongly advise getting in touch with our probate team who can check whether probate is needed in your circumstances and to make sure you follow the inheritance rules.
This will depend on the circumstances, but around six to nine months is common for straightforward estates where there are no unexpected complications. It may take longer, however, if the deceased’s home and any other assets need to be sold in order to divide the estate in accordance with their wishes.
In theory, you can administer an estate yourself, but there are a number of advantages to using a solicitor for probate, including:
- Giving you the peace of mind that an expert is handling the process
- Minimising the risk of any errors or other avoidable delays
- Providing related services, such as handling the sale of the deceased’s home
- The solicitor can be held responsible (or have the right protection) if any errors are made, e.g. with paying inheritance tax or valuing the estate
If you believe an Executor is failing in their duties, you may be able to apply to a court to have them removed entirely or replaced. In many cases, this may mean the Executor being replaced with a professional, such as a solicitor.
This will depend on the value of the estate and what relatives have survived the deceased.
If the estate is worth £250,000 or less and the deceased has a living spouse or civil partner, they will inherit the whole estate. If they do not have a living spouse or civil partner, the estate will be split evenly between any children of the deceased. If they have no living children either, other relatives, such as grandchildren, parents and siblings may be next in line to inherit.
If the estate is worth more than £250,000, a living spouse or civil partner will inherit the first £250,000, plus 50% of anything over £250,000. Any living children would then split the remainder of the estate.
Our probate expertise
We support clients from all over England and Wales with every aspect of probate. Whether it’s help sorting out an estate or you’re struggling to deal with more complex issues, we have the assured expertise you need.
Our aim is to make working with us as convenient as possible. We are happy to speak to you face-to-face, over the phone, via email or using video conferencing. We will be happy to visit you in your home, nursing home or in hospital if required.
Many of our team are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Several also hold the STEP Advanced Certificate in advising vulnerable clients on Wills preparation. This means that, no matter your needs, we can provide the right support for you.
Our clients consistently provide positive feedback and more than 70% of our business is via referrals from existing clients.
We are Lexcel accredited by the Law Society, reflecting the strength of our practice management and customer care, and we are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Contact our probate solicitors in Bristol
Whether you need some advice and support to make dealing with a loved one’s estate easier, or want us to handle the whole process for you, our probate lawyers in Bristol and South Gloucestershire are here for you.