Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult and emotionally draining. Often, the last thing you feel like doing is confronting the confusing process of probate. Experienced probate solicitors are able to give you independent advice tailored to your situation.
For a layperson, probate can be a complicated concept to wrap their head around, but it need not be a hard process to understand or navigate. Having a probate solicitor carry out the work on your behalf, can give you time to grieve, while also freeing you up to deal with other emotional tasks, such as planning a funeral. Our Oratto member lawyers have years of experience in this often-complex field and so are perfectly positioned to guide you.
What is probate?
When a person dies, their estate needs to be administered. This means that the financial affairs of the deceased need to be finalised before assets can be distributed among beneficiaries. However, before an executor to an estate can undertake any duties, a ‘Grant of Probate’ (legal confirmation from the court that the Will is valid and the applicant has the right to handle the estate) needs to be issued. In cases of intestacy (where the deceased died without a Will), the estate is instead handled by an administrator. It is their job to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration (issued to the person who is administering the estate of someone who has died without a Will).
What does probate do?
It legally entitles a person to act on behalf of the deceased. The probate document is granted by a section of the court known as the probate registry. Once this has happened, the Will is a legal document, which becomes enforceable in the courts.
However, not all circumstances require this document. If you are unsure if you need to apply for a Grant of Probate, we can arrange for you to speak with one of our member lawyers today.
How can a probate solicitor help me?
An experienced probate solicitor will deal with the legalities of probate and estate administration, as well as providing you with valuable guidance along the way. Having a solicitor deal with the complexities probate and estate administration bring alleviates the worry and stress a layperson often feels, allowing them to instead focus on their loved ones.
Understanding the process and the order in which to do things can be perplexing, and that is why early legal advice is recommended. Working with an Oratto specialist probate solicitor allows you to feel confident that matters are being handled by an experienced professional, while also providing you with the much needed time and space required to grieve.
If you instruct an Oratto member probate solicitor, you will receive a service tailored to your specific needs. You can expect your solicitor to:
- Locate the will, if you are unable to find it
- Ensure the registration of the death and obtain copies of the death certificate
- Collect and organise all the required information relating to the estate's assets and liabilities
- Prepare the HMRC tax return for Inheritance Tax purposes
- Completion of forms for appling for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
- Payment of any tax liabilities
- Tax efficiency
- Payment of debts and other expenses, including expenses you’ve incurred, for example funeral costs
- The finding of creditors – this is typically done by placing a statutory advertisement in the Gazette and local press for a period of 28 days soon after the death
- Payment of legacies
- Preparation of the estate account
- Administration of any trusts
- Distribution of the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes as set out in their will.
- Distribution of the estate among the beneficiaries in line with the rules of intestacy (in cases where there is not a will)
Protect yourself from liability
Instructing a specialist probate solicitor will protect you from personal liability from any financial losses that may arise due to errors you may have made. You will also have the right documentation to fall back on in the event of any disputes or queries in the future.
An Oratto member solicitor can also help you with more practical arrangements after a loved one has died. These include:
- Organisation of rental of property that is not being sold
- Arrangements for the selling of any property (this includes organising repairs, clearance and conducting viewings)
- Obtain valuations of valuable assets
- Arrange the selling of assets, such as shares and investments
- Arrange for the upkeep of property (including garden maintenance, security and emergency adjustments where necessary)
- Organise storage of excess furniture
- Sort household goods and sell them if required
Why instruct a probate solicitor?
It is common for many people to instruct a general practice solicitor regardless of the circumstances and details of the estate, but there are some situations when it is particularly advisable to have a specialist probate solicitor guiding you through the often complicated probate process. These situations might include the following:
- The estate is worth more than the Inheritance Tax threshold
- The estate continues to earn a regular income
- The estate has complex tax arrangements
- The deceased died intestate
- The estate is being contested
- The estate has assets held in trust
- There are bankruptcy or insolvency issues associated with the estate
- The estate includes foreign property or foreign assets
- The deceased lived outside of the UK for tax purposes
We understand that it can be difficult to focus on such mundane tasks so soon after the death of a loved one, but by passing those responsibilities over to an Oratto member solicitor, you can instead focus on you and your family, making the grieving process that little bit easier.
Talk to a probate solicitor today
Oratto helps you make the process of probate much easier. All our member probate solicitors share the same commitment to putting the clients’ needs first. In addition, they bring the following assurances:
- A fixed fee service so that you have no nasty surprises
- Competitive pricing that aims to be the most affordable
- A desire to better your existing quote
To find out whether you need a probate solicitor to act on your behalf, contact Oratto and let us connect you with the member lawyer most suited to your individual circumstances.