Sorting out the estate of a friend or family member who has died can be highly complicated, adding extra stress at what is already an emotional time. Our solicitors can step in to help take you through the necessary procedures, allowing you to move on with the grieving process without having to worry about getting to grips with all the legal ins and outs of managing an estate. We will work with you to make sure you understand exactly what is required, so you can feel confident about the process.
Being an executor
If you have been named an executor of a will you will need to apply for a “grant of representation” (also known as a “grant of probate”). This gives you the legal right to administer the deceased’s estate and will act as proof of this when dealing with the deceased’s bank and other institutions. A grant of representation may not always be necessary, depending on the type of assets the deceased owned and the rules of whichever bank or building society they held accounts with. This is something on which we can provide guidance.
It is possible that the person making the will may have named you as one of several executors, meaning you would usually have to work with the other named executors to administer the estate. Alternatively, your loved one may not have left a will, they may have failed to name an executor, or the named executor/s may be unable or unwilling to perform the role. If this happens, you may need to apply for a grant of representation to allow you to take control of dealing with the deceased’s assets.
All of these potential scenarios can be difficult and time consuming to navigate. It is important to understand, once you have taken on the role of executor, you become personally responsible to the beneficiaries of the will for any losses that might occur. Using a solicitor to advise you can not only makes your life easier, but will also allow you the peace of mind that things are being handled in the correct way, protecting yourself and the beneficiaries while ensuring the deceased’s instructions are carried out.
As an executor, you are responsible for establishing the exact assets the deceased owned (both in the UK and worldwide if applicable) and any debts they might have had outstanding, such as a mortgage or unpaid utility bills. Our experienced team of probate lawyers can manage this process for you, including contacting the deceased’s bank and other institutions, notifying beneficiaries of the estate, providing advice about any complex issues, such as trusts or the effect of intestacies and helping you deal with any tax consequences for the estate.
We can also assist in collecting the deceased’s assets, paying their debts and distributing their estate to those named in the will. In instances where there is no will (known as “intestacy”), we can advise you on how to proceed, ensuring that you act in accordance with the relevant rules.
One of the most important issues to get right is any inheritance tax payable on the estate. If inheritance tax is owed, this must be paid either in full or by instalments before a grant of representation will be issued allowing you to move forward with the rest of the administration process. There may also be implications for the beneficiaries’ income tax, so this also needs to be considered. Our team collectively have decades of experience dealing with tax issues, so will be happy to guide you through the relevant issues.
How much will it cost?
As an executor you are likely to incur costs in administering the estate and these can be settled from the funds held in the estate to ensure that you are not out of pocket. The most common costs incurred are as follows:-
As you will appreciate this is not an exhaustive list, the costs incurred and services required vary depending upon the nature and location of the assets in the estate and the location of the beneficiaries.
Understandably you will want to know how much instructing us is going to cost. Below we have provided a guide to our prices for a full administration service of an estate.
Administration of Estate – full service
Applying for the grant of probate, collecting and distributing the assets and settling liabilities
We offer a full administration of estate service. This means that we will:
This price guide is for our full administration service for a straightforward estate where:-
Our fees are calculated partly on a time spent basis at an hourly rate and partly as a percentage of the value of the gross estate. The hourly rate is determined by the skill and expertise of the Solicitor or Probate Executive carrying out the work.
We anticipate that an estate of this nature will take between 12 and 17 hours of work at £190 per hour plus VAT (this rate is based upon a Solicitor, who is less than 10 years qualified acting).
The total overall charge for a full administration service of an estate of this kind are therefore estimated at £2,280 and £3,230 plus a charge based on the value of the estate (0.5% of the value of any residence and 1% of the remainder of the estate) plus VAT and disbursements (which are set out in further detail below).
Please note that the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and the hourly rate of the solicitor or probate executive carrying out the work. For example, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be less than if there are multiple beneficiaries, a property and multiple bank accounts.
In addition to our costs the following disbursements are likely to be necessary:-
We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. There is no need for you to open an executor’s bank account as we operate a client account which can receive all money due to the estate and simplifies the settling of liabilities and the making of distributions.
In using our full administration service you remain in complete control, taking the decisions as to the encashment and/or transfer of the assets in the estate. We do not require you to appoint us as your attorneys in order to be able to administer the estate in this way, although if circumstances are such that this is appropriate it is a service we do offer (if for example an executor is going abroad and will be out of contact for a prolonged period).
Potential additional costs
How long will this take?
On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with within 6 to 9 months.
Our team of Private Client solicitors in Bristol understand that dealing with the affairs of a family member or friend after they have died can be both stressful and upsetting. We combine a sensitive approach with the knowledge and experience gained from years of helping people just like you through this difficult process. To find out more about the experience and expertise of each of our team, please click on the links in the Meet The Team section below.
To find out more, or to book an appointment, call 0117 962 1205 and ask for a member of our probate team. Alternatively, you can use our online contact form to send us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Recent changes at the Probate Registry designed to make it easier to obtain a Grant of Probate may encourage executors to try to deal with the administration of an estate themselves without professional assistance. However, obtaining the Grant is only the first hurdle and not the finishing line and after issue of the Grant there are still traps for the unwary.
In the second of a series of articles AMD solicitors discuss the pitfalls of DIY probate. In this instalment Sarah Burgess, a Solicitor dealing with contentious and non-contentious probate, highlights some of the issues she has come across.
Many people who are appointed as executors under a will know that their duties include administering an estate in accordance with the will to ensure that the beneficiaries receive what they have been left.
Brenda Smyth of AMD Solicitors considers the tax implications when dealing with the administration of an estate
Andrew Jack of AMD Solicitors considers the dangers of homemade wills
Last month, AMD Solicitors hosted two probate talks to outline current issues in Private Client Law. The talks are held to inform members of the public about the changing law and there are opportunities to ask questions. We had an excellent turn out last month presenting to 30 people at the Trinity-Henleaze United Reformed Church.
Andrew Jack and Florence Pearce, two of our experienced private client Solicitors, recently gave talks at both the Tyndale Baptist Church in Clifton and the Trinity Henleaze URC Church in Henleaze on Inheritance Tax, Lasting Powers of Attorney, wills, and related matters.
On 19 April our Andrew Jack spoke to the members of St Andrews Ladies Club in Avonmouth. He had been invited along to speak to them on the subject of Wills, Powers of Attorney and Probate after a member of the club had previously attended a public talk run in Shirehampton and was impressed with how Andrew presented.
While many of the families who seek our advice on planning for inheritance remain a traditional structure, there are increasing numbers of more complicated families. There are often challenging issues to resolve when advising on succession planning for modern-day families.
Andrew Jack, one of our Probate and Wills Specialists offers some tips on avoiding DIY probate pitfalls.
The law of inheritance in England and Wales has changed significantly with effect from 1 October 2014 as the “Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014” comes into force. The changes are in the writer’s view generally for the good, though much more could have been done to update and improve the current rules.
If you are not married you do not automatically inherit your partner’s Estate if they die without having made a Will. However, if you have lived with your partner for two years or more and can show you were wholly or partially financially dependent on them, you can expect reasonable financial provision from their Estate for your maintenance.
If you have been written out of a will or do not feel you have been fairly represented and suspect some wrong doing, you may be able to contest the legal validity of the will. In addition to fraud and forgery there are two circumstances that can lead to a will being invalid: where there was undue influence by a third party on the person who made the will, or that person was lacking in testamentary capacity at the time of making their will - for example if they lacked mental capacity due to illness.
Andrew Jack of AMD Solicitors offers important information for anyone about to undertake the task of writing their will, and explains why it is important to seek legal advice before doing so.
By Shelley Faulkner, solicitor with AMD Solicitors.