We offer a flexible range of legal advice and services for executors and/or beneficiaries in and around London relating to probate.
Probate is simply the legal term given to the process of administering a deceased person’s estate.
Our approach is flexible ensuring that you have the level of help and support you need rather than a “traditional” approach of only offering to deal with the whole matter at a percentage cost of the value of the estate.
Your basic role as executor, whether you were appointed in the will or are a relative who agrees to take on the role of administrator where there was no will. is to collect in assets, pay off liabilities including any inheritance tax, possibly transfer or sell assets and then to distribute assets. Some probate matters are straightforward, others involve significant legal and practical challenges such as where there are numerous beneficiaries, disputes between or with beneficiaries, complex assets or liabilities.
Given that a very significant proportion of the UK population do not make a will, we can also advise and assist on the Intestacy rules.
If you need advice of any kind, whether at the outset or as and when a problem arises during probate, we provide an experienced and cost effective service. It is especially important to recognise that if you make a significant error which is potentially negligent, you may be personally liable as executor or administrator, which is another good reason to get good legal advice on any issue of concern. Doing so may well protect you at a later stage.
Naturally, if the deceased owned anything jointly then only the worth of their share should be included in the total valuation.
In most cases the executor will need to have the majority of the belongings included in the estate professionally valued.
More often than not, when a person dies, they leave behind some outstanding debts and these will also need to be cleared. The executor may have to cover the debts themselves if a Grant for Representation hasn’t yet been applied for.
However, in some circumstances, the company owed may decide to write off the debt or may be willing to put the account on hold until the executor has permission to access the deceased’s accounts in order to settle the outstanding balance.
It will also be down to the executor to inform all the companies that the deceased had dealings with of the situation and to close those accounts but again this will need to wait until a Grant of Representation has been issued.
The executor will then need to apply for a Grant of Representation from the probate registry office.
Under most circumstances the executor/executors will be expected to follow up their application by attending an interview before the Grant of Representation can be awarded.
Once they have received the grant the executor then has the authority to access the deceased’s accounts and start getting them in order ready to distribute as stated in the will.
This is the time when the executor can start paying off companies the deceased owed money to and closing down old accounts.
The final stage of the executor’s duties is the distribution of the estate. This involves handing out the deceased’s belongings in accordance to the will and, although it sounds relatively straight forward, is often the time when family feuds arise.
Perhaps one individual named in the will didn’t get as much as he was expecting or the gold watch which son A had been hoping for was actually given to son B.
Sadly, although this is a time of intense grief, it can also be a time when the worst aspects of human nature come to the fore and often executors will need to deal with instances when the will is contested because a family member isn’t satisfied with their portion of the inheritance.
Here, especially, is where the executors will more than likely require the assistance of a probate solicitor to help smooth the way.
Another common problem which can arise at the point of distribution is when unknown relatives or friends are named in the will and, subsequently, need to be traced in order to be given what is rightfully theirs.
When someone dies without having written a will, or their will has been revoked for some reason then they are deemed to have died intestate. They have therefore not formally chosen who their assets should be given to, therefore a set of rules known as the Intestacy Rules apply.
These rules are contained in the Administration of Estates Act 1925.
No 2 situations are the same – some estates are relatively straightforward and a formal grant may not be needed, others are highly complex, involving trusts, many different assets, difficulties with finding information or people who are beneficiaries. In some situations, relationships between relatives also cause issues. In some situations, we can offer a fixed fee service aimed mainly at support to ensure paperwork is done correctly and to take some time pressure or stress , way. In other situations, where estate administration will clearly be complex or take a long time, we offer competitive hourly rates and highly experienced, specialist legal advice.
If you are an executor or an administrator of an estate and need probate solicitors in North London or London generally, please do get in touch.