Grant of Probate Solicitors
If you need help dealing with the responsibility of administering the will of someone who has died, the specialist probate lawyers at Percy Hughes and Roberts Solicitors can help you.
Our clients choose to seek the help of a specialist because of the complexity of this area of the law, coupled with the responsibility of being trusted to correctly deal with someone's will.
We are often called upon to provide legal advice to those who are struggling with particularly complicated will arrangements, estates that are bankrupt or insolvent, or unusual tax-related issues.
We can also help you if you want to apply for a grant of representation; be it a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration.
We are based in Birkenhead and have served the Wirral, Merseyside and further afield for over 100 years.
Why choose Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors?
The process of probate can often seem daunting, especially when there has been a death of a family member or close friend. At Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors, we have a team of dedicated probate solicitors ready to help you resolve your probate query or issue as quickly and effectively as possible.
If you need assistance obtaining a grant of probate or letter of administration, or simply want advice on dealing with the Probate Registry, our wills and probate solicitors have a wealth of experience and provide a service that is sensitive and cost-effective, ensuring you are able to get the outcome you deserve.
As well as applying for grants of representation, we can help you to deal with complexities relating to:
- Complicated tax or inheritance tax issues
- Someone dying without a will
- A bankrupt or insolvent estate
We're proud of our long tradition of providing active and practical help to the community we serve, and helping people most in need access clear, simple and cost-effective legal advice. We strive to deliver the highest possible standards at all times, which is reflected by the fact we hold the Lexcel accreditation.
If you have more questions on what being an executor of a will entails, you can find more detail in our Ten Key Tasks for an Executor guide.
FAQs about grants of probate
What is probate?
Probate is the entire legal process for dealing with the estate of someone who has died. An estate relates to the money and property of the deceased. It involves organising the deceased's money, assets, their possessions and then distributing them as an inheritance.
If the deceased left a will, they should have specified an executor or executors. These are people who are expected to “execute” the will. An executor has the responsibility to carry out the deceased's wishes, as written down in their will.
Before an executor starts the probate process, they must apply for a Grant of Probate. This is a legal document that gives them the authority to deal with the deceased's estate.
Once all taxes and debts have been paid, and everything has been distributed according to the deceased's will, the probate process ends. You can read more in our detailed guide to the probate process.
What are the stages of the probate and estate administration process?
The first step of the probate process is to ascertain the value of the estate. This responsibility will fall to the executor, who will need to find out the value of any assets held by the person who died; this might include property, bank accounts, and high-value items. The estate comprises the value of all of these assets added together, minus any liabilities or debts that they owed - such as unpaid utility bills, a mortgage or personal loan, or other debts, plus the cost of the funeral.
Once the deceased person's estate has been valued, the executor must determine whether or not they owe Inheritance Tax (IHT). This tax is charged at 40% of the value of an estate that exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold, which is currently set at £325,000. If the deceased's estate is liable for IHT, you must report this when you take the next step, which is to apply for a grant of probate.
The executor must submit the application to the relevant Probate Registry, along with the original will, any codicils, and the death certificate. There is also a fee for the probate application, which varies depending on the size of the estate. If there are multiple executors, you can also pay a fee to receive multiple copies of the grant of probate - executors do not need to make separate applications for probate to be granted.
If inheritance tax is payable, an executor must pay at least a portion of it before the grant of probate can be issued. Funds to pay for Inheritance Tax can be requested from the deceased’s assets, such as their bank accounts or investments.
Once the executor has received the grant of probate, they will be given access to the assets held by the estate and can begin the process of distributing them according to the provisions of the will.
At PHR Solicitors, we provide advice and offer probate services to support executors in administering a will correctly, meeting their legal obligations (including advice on capital gains tax and IHT), and applying for probate. The process can be confusing and take a long time, especially for a complex estate. At the same time, delays can lead to family conflicts and prolong the period of grief after a loved one passes away. As such, it is often better to work with a solicitor for support throughout the probate process.
How long does probate take?
Every estate and set of circumstances is different, so it is hard to put an exact figure on the time it takes to complete the probate process. The government estimates that you should receive a Grant of Probate within 16 weeks of making your application, but this can take longer if the Courts and Tribunals Service requires extra information. The process may also be subject to delays, and this estimate can differ depending on whether you apply online or via post.
Once you receive the Grant of Probate, you can begin the process. You may be able to speed up the process if you work with a probate specialist, such as a probate solicitor, but there will usually be elements of estate administration that are outside of your control. For example, if the will specifies that you need to sell property held by the deceased, the process may encounter delays. This can be compounded if the estate includes foreign property, or in any number of other ways, so it is difficult to give a clear estimate of the length of time that you should expect probate to take.
However, on average, it takes between nine and 12 months in total to obtain the Grant of Probate and complete the estate administration process in England and Wales.
In cases where the estate is small and uncomplicated, it can take much less time, but could still take up to six months. The best way to get an accurate estimate of the time that estate administration could take in your individual circumstances is to speak to an expert probate solicitor about the specifics of your situation.
Do I need probate?
A grant of probate isn't always necessary. If the deceased had a small estate containing no property and a small sum of money, it is unlikely the process will be needed.
This is also the case if the deceased held their assets jointly with another person, like joint bank accounts. Those assets will be passed directly onto the surviving owner. This process is called the “right of survivorship”.
We would always advise that you seek legal advice from a probate professional to determine whether probate is necessary or not.
What is a grant of representation?
A grant of representation is a legal document that confirms your ability and authority to deal with the estate of someone who has died.
The term 'grant of representation' refers to either a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration.
What is a grant of probate?
A grant of probate is a legal document issued by the Probate Registry, which is part of the UK court system. It gives the executor (or executors) of a deceased person's will the authority to administer their estate. The grant of probate confirms the validity of the will and the appointment of one or more executors.
People often name executors - those whom they want to take on the responsibility of administering their estate in the event of their death - in their wills. Those executors need a grant of probate in order to legally handle bank accounts and deal with the deceased's property and possessions.
What is a grant of letters of administration?
If the deceased did not leave a will, certain people can apply to become the 'administrator' of the estate. They are:
- A spouse (husband or wife) of the deceased
- A civil partner of the deceased
- A child of the deceased
The document that the administrator will receive to prove they have the legal right to deal with the estate is called a grant of letters of administration.
What is the role of an executor in the probate process?
The executor is the person who is responsible for managing the estate of a person who has died. When you prepare a will, you must name one or more executors who will take on this role after you die and administer your estate according to the wishes you have expressed.
You can choose a friend or family member as your executor, or choose a professional executor to take on this role. Generally, people like to feel that their legacy has been left with a loved one whom they trust, but there are significant advantages to hiring a professional executor. They can ensure that the will is executed within the bounds of the law and the provisions you have set, and will not be motivated by any personal conflicts or interest in this will. This can also help to take the burden away from someone who loves you, who may struggle to manage the responsibility of acting as an executor during their time of grief.
What does a probate solicitor do?
A probate solicitor is a legal professional who specialises in the complex process of administering the estate of a deceased person. Probate can be difficult for an executor, especially if the person who died was a loved one, and a probate solicitor can be useful to provide professional guidance and support during a challenging time. They can manage the entire probate process on the executor's behalf, providing peace of mind and reducing stress.
A probate solicitor can take responsibility for a wide range of tasks, beginning with establishing the value of the deceased's estate. As we have explained above, this involves identifying all assets and liabilities, a task that can be complex and time-consuming without expert help, and ensuring that any IHT is accurately calculated and paid.
Working with a probate solicitor guarantees that the estate administration process will be completed correctly, avoiding the legal issues that can arise if you make a mistake. This includes ensuring all debts are paid before distributing the estate to the beneficiaries as stipulated in the will.
They can also offer invaluable assistance in dealing with disputes over the will or estate. With their deep understanding of probate law, they can help mediate conflicts and work towards resolutions. Probate solicitors can give you advice or represent you in the event that someone decides to challenge the will or object to the grant of probate.
In essence, a probate solicitor’s expertise simplifies an intricate process, offering assurance that all matters are handled correctly, enabling you to focus on what matters most during this period. If you need help with any stage of the probate process or would like our probate specialists to manage these responsibilities on your behalf, get in touch with our team today.
Contact Percy Hughes & Roberts
To speak to Mark Cotson, Head of Wills, Trusts & Probate at Percy Hughes & Roberts for a no-obligation phone consultation, call us today on 0151 666 9090, or fill out an online enquiry form to arrange for us to get in touch at a time that's suitable for you.