We provide a high quality and client-focused probate service at Winston Solicitors, which has awarded us over 2000 5-star client reviews.
Probate can be a complicated and stressful process. It comes at a time when you are already coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, along with having to make other arrangements such as organising the funeral and informing friends and family.
On top of all this, being responsible for your loved one’s estate may be a struggle at such a difficult time. This is why many people decide to find legal support to help them ensure that the wishes and intentions of the deceased are met.
Probate and estate administration
If you are the executor of a will or the person dealing with the estate if a will has not been left, you may be overwhelmed with questions.
What is probate?
Probate is the process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died
What is a Grant of Probate?
A Grant of Probate is the legal document that must be obtained from the Probate Registry before someone is able to deal with the deceased’s estate.
What happens if someone dies without a will?
If someone dies without a will, the legal term for this is an “intestacy”. Instead of requesting a Grant of Probate, the person in charge of handling the estate (usually a close family member) makes an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration which gives them the authority to deal with the estate as the administrator.
Who needs to apply for probate?
If a valid will has been left, the named executor(s) will need to apply for probate.
If no will was left by the deceased, then they have died “intestate” and the rules of intestacy will establish who is responsible for applying for probate.
What is the probate process?
- Ascertain the value of all the deceased person’s possessions, including property, investments, savings, and pensions as at the date of death (these are known as the assets of the estate).
- Identify the value of all their liabilities, such as debts and bills, as at the date of their death.
- If the estate is liable, pay the inheritance tax (IHT) to HMRC and submit an Inheritance Tax return.
- Apply for probate either online or by post. Obtain the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry.
- Sell the assets (if required), collect everything in and settle outstanding debts. Prepare the estate accounts.
- Transfer and distribute the remaining inherited assets to the rightful beneficiaries.
What does a probate solicitor do?
The main role of a probate solicitor is to support the executor or the administrator. This will often start by applying for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, depending on the situation.
Identify whether probate is needed
Probate may not be needed in some circumstances: for instance, if the deceased only owned savings, shares or money jointly with someone else, or land or property as joint tenants, then the survivor automatically becomes the sole owner without probate.
A probate solicitor will be able to evaluate your situation and establish whether probate is required or not.
Calculate taxes and file returns
Part of the role of the solicitor is to deal with estate taxes such as income tax, inheritance tax (IHT) and capital gains tax (CGT). Expert probate solicitors will make sure that all taxes are filed correctly with HMRC and in the most tax-efficient way possible. Solicitors can ensure that taxes are calculated accurately to avoid a liability or penalty.
Depending on the complexity of the estate, there may be a large number of assets. A probate solicitor has the responsibility of managing the assets, including selling, distributing or transferring them to the beneficiaries. A solicitor will keep a record of this and produce estate accounts at the end to show what went in and out of the estate.
In a lot of cases, there will be outstanding liabilities that must be settled. It is down to the solicitor to ensure that all these are paid before the inheritance is distributed to the beneficiaries.
Is it best to use a solicitor for probate?
You are not obliged to use a solicitor for probate in England and Wales but many of our clients find that using a probate solicitor is invaluable. It gives them peace of mind that the process is being overseen correctly and efficiently, with no stone unturned.
Our experience has taught us that people who try to manage probate alone can encounter problems with mistakes they have made.
A probate solicitor understands the complex legal terminology used in wills and probate, and has professional experience in handling many different types of estates.
Therefore, people often prefer to use a solicitor for probate – to take away the stress of potentially being held personally liable when innocent mistakes are made.
Common mistakes made by executors
As an executor, if you make a mistake, you can be held personally and financially liable to the beneficiaries and creditors that are owed money from the estate.
Some common mistakes include the following:
- Not identifying all the assets
- Miscalculating the value of the assets
- Miscalculating taxes due
- Not identifying all the beneficiaries
- Not maintaining accurate records
- Not identifying all the creditors
How difficult is probate?
Probate can be time-consuming and a long process when you are tackling it alone. Ultimately, whether probate is difficult or not depends on the complexity of the individual situation and how equipped you are to handle it.
Whilst you can go through probate without a solicitor, if there are a lot of assets involved such as shares, stocks, companies and overseas investments, it may take some time to get your head round where to actually start.
How can Winston Solicitors help you with probate?
Our recommended Leeds solicitors offer specialist legal services, from superbly located offices in Roundhay, North Leeds.
At Winston Solicitors, we have a vast amount of knowledge and experience in supporting people like you and your family through this daunting process.
Our experienced accredited solicitors are here to lend a sympathetic ear and guide you through the whole probate process. Our team of experts will provide you with technical advice and assistance so that you can rest assured that your matter is in safe hands.
Appoint Winston Solicitors as professional executors
By appointing Winston Solicitors, you will receive a professional yet personal service, as we understand that your situation may be sensitive.
We will advise you according to your personal circumstances and can take on the responsibility of administering the estate on your behalf.
Avoid personal and financial liability
Our probate solicitors in Leeds and Yorkshire deal will complex probate issues regularly. The probate process can become complicated when beneficiaries cannot be found or creditors come out of the woodwork. Sometimes disputes can also arise and cases have to go to court.
We understand that such scenarios are stressful and we have the expertise to deal with them head-on, on your behalf.
As someone administering an estate, there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. As accredited solicitors, we have the correct insurance and procedures in place to provide the best protection.
Our vast knowledge and experience mean that we can confidently support you, no matter how complex the estate.
What our clients say about our probate service
At Winston Solicitors, we have a first-class reputation with our clients. With over 2000 5-star reviews, we are confident that our probate service will exceed your expectations.
We put our clients’ interests first as our goal is to do everything we can to give them the peace of mind they deserve.
Delivering a reliable and personable service is something we pride ourselves on, which is why we offer the following:
- Tailored legal solutions to suit your needs
- A cost-effective service
- On-site parking for ease of accessibility
- Wheelchair access
- An office space outside of the centre of Leeds
How to contact our wills and probate solicitors in Roundhay, Leeds
At Winston Solicitors, we know that every situation is different. Suffering a loss is already emotionally impacting but it can be especially hard when you are faced with probate too. If you need help administering an estate or have concerns about probate, get in touch with us today. We are always happy to help you.
Alternatively, complete our contact form for further information on our services and we will get in touch with you.
We are based in Leeds, for more information on how you can get to us visit our contact page.
NB: timescales and fees are subject to change – please ask for details.
As of February 2023, it is taking 16 weeks from the day the Probate Registry confirm they are processing your application for them to issue you with a Grant. However, there can be exceptions.
If a person who died did not have a will then the person who is granted Letters of Administration is called the administrator. This is a similar role to an executor of a will.
If the deceased did not have a will then the next of kin may have to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration before they can deal with the estate.
If the deceased had a will then the executors may have to apply for a Grant of Probate before they can deal with the estate.
Institutions have their own procedures and requirements before releasing their deceased customers’ assets and will inform you of these when you communicate with them. Some may require a grant, some may not. This often depends on the value of the asset.
You can apply for probate without a solicitor: however, it is a good idea to get legal advice if you do not understand the will, or where the estate is complicated.
As part of the process of applying for probate, you will need to calculate the value of the deceased’s estate which includes everything they own. In addition, you will need to calculate the inheritance tax (IHT) due. This can become complicated when someone has left assets held in trusts or overseas, or where the deceased owned a business for instance.
Executors are personally responsible for correctly administering an estate, including accurately valuing the assets and calculating the right taxes, settling any debts, and distributing to the beneficiaries. If this is done incorrectly, executors can be held personally and financially liable. Instructing a solicitor gives the executor peace of mind and protection if anything goes wrong.
Where the solicitor is acting as the executor, they will often hold inheritance money for 6 months after the Grant of Probate is given. This is because if anyone wants to make an Inheritance Act claim against the estate because they reasonably expected to receive an inheritance but didn’t, they must do this within 6 months of probate being granted. Therefore, if someone does make a claim for money from the estate and they are successful, the amount can be deducted from the total held by the solicitor before it is allocated amongst the beneficiaries.
After you have been granted probate, the length of time it will take to administer the estate will depend upon the complexity of the assets.
When you instruct a solicitor for probate, it can take time to collect the details of the estate and understand the assets, debts and income involved. After this, the probate application will need to be completed. Once probate is granted, the time it takes to collect and distribute all the assets will be dependent on the complexity and size of the estate. As many large government and financial institutions are involved, the solicitor may face delays due to their response times.
When someone dies having already made a will, they are likely to have explained in their will which assets they are leaving, such as property, money and possessions, and to who they would like to leave them (the beneficiaries). Everything that is owned by the deceased is called their “estate”. The will should name the executor, who is the person in charge of distributing the assets.
The executor will then need to apply for probate to give them legal authority to collect the assets within the deceased’s estate and distribute them to the beneficiaries. Before the executor applies for probate, they will need to estimate the value of the estate and calculate whether any inheritance tax is due.
Probate may not be needed if the person who died only had low value assets in their sole name, only held joint accounts with someone, or owned land or property as joint tenants. Jointly owned assets are usually inherited automatically by the survivor.
If the deceased has bank accounts with savings, probate may be necessary if the banks or financial institutions need to see a Grant before allowing access to the accounts. You will need to ask the bank or building society about their individual requirements as these vary.
If probate is not required, the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries, unless it is found that the estate is insolvent, which means it does not have enough assets to pay off debts owed.