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Probate

When it comes to the legal matters closest to you, you need a team who go above and beyond to help. A team of solicitors who understand your legal concerns, and advises with practicality and pragmatism. We can help.

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Our team of specialist probate lawyers in London provide friendly, effective and sympathetic advice on all aspects of your loved one's affairs following their death, whether or not a will has been made.

Probate solicitors based in London

Adams' probate solicitors can provide much-needed advice and support on all matters relating to probate. We specialise in areas such as:

  • Obtaining grants of probate or letters of administration
  • Administration of an estate and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Preparing estate accounts on behalf of personal representatives
  • Preparing and advising on inheritance tax returns
  • Making post-death arrangements to reduce liability for inheritance tax

We can assist you in obtaining a grant of probate (or letters of administration in the absence of a will). This is often needed to authorize the person appointed to deal with the estate. We also deal with all aspects of the administration – including obtaining the grant, valuing the assets, agreeing and settling any inheritance tax liability, as well as gathering in and distributing the assets in accordance with the will or intestacy rules. We also regularly advise on contentious probate, estate planning, trusts and are experienced at dealing with all matters relating to contested estates.

"Whether dealing with non-contentious or contentious probate, we provide a friendly, efficient and above all, sympathetic service to help ensure the probate process is conducted smoothly and efficiently."

What is probate and how do you get a letter of representation?

In the UK, 7 out of 10 adults die without leaving a will. This can create a confusing and upsetting situation for relatives. Knowing where to start can be difficult.

When someone passes away, that person's property, money and other possessions (collectively called their estate) must be dealt with. To be able to administer the estate, you may need to apply for the authority. If the person who has passed away has a will and has named you as their executor, depending on the value of their estate, you might need to apply for a grant of representation, known as "probate", through your local Probate Registry.

If the person has failed to make a will, the process is more complicated. In this case, an application for letters of administration will need to be made. The person who is granted letters of administration is referred to as an administrator. The administrator is usually a close relative of the person who has passed away. However, there may be more than one person who may claim equal right to become an administrator of the estate.

At Adams Law, our wills and probate experts routinely provide shrewd advice on all aspects of administering an estate. Whatever you need assistance with, from identifying the items in your loved one's estate to preparing your application for grant of representation or letters of administration, our highly regarded team can help.

When is a grant of representation needed?

If the deceased leaves £5,000 or more, stocks or shares, a house or land or certain insurance policies, a grant of representation will be needed. A grant of representation will not be required if the person has left less than £5,000 in total or owned everything jointly with someone else. If you are unsure about whether a grant of representation is needed in your situation, please contact the highly regarded probate team at Adams Law to discuss your circumstances and receive specialist advice.

What are the responsibilities of the personal representatives?

It is the responsibility of the personal representatives to make sure the estate is managed according to the instructions set out in the deceased's will. In the absence of a will, the representatives must follow the rules of intestacy. If you need to contact us to receive help with this, we will provide clear-cut advice on the law that applies to you and the responsibilities you must fulfil.

Personal representatives are also responsible for paying inheritance tax, if due. For this purpose, the representatives need to find out:

  1. a) the value of the deceased's belongings at the time of the death;
  2. b) who are the people who will benefit from the will, or under the law if there is no will;
  3. c) the value of any gifts given before death and to whom those gifts were given.

Our experienced solicitors will determine whether any inheritance tax is due and if so how much. We are well versed in English inheritance law. We use this knowledge to take as much of the burden as possible from your shoulders, including taking care of the large amount of legal documentation involved in administering an estate in England. Our clients find this help invaluable at what can be a challenging time.

How long does probate take?

The length of time taken to complete the probate process will largely depend on the nature of the estate. If the estate is relatively small, for example, if it is made up of a single house or a small amount of savings, this can be dealt with relatively quickly. On the other hand, if the estate is extensive, it could take longer to go through the process of valuing assets and selling them if required. In circumstances where inheritance tax needs to be paid on the estate, an agreement will have to be reached with the inland revenue on the value of assets. This can mean that the probate process takes longer.

What tax is required to be paid on the estate?

As mentioned above, inheritance tax may have to be paid on the estate. This is a tax levied against property, savings and investments above the value of £325,000. Depending on the nature of the estate, there may also be capital gains tax and income tax to be paid. The probate lawyers at Adams Law can advise on the particular tax liabilities of the estate in question.

What problems can arise?

When winding up an estate, complications can arise in the following circumstances:

  • Where the estate is made up of stocks, complicated insurance policies, assets which are held in a trust or properties which are still the source of regular income there may be issues with tax.
  • Where the person has died without a will, or without a valid will.
  • Where there are disputes about the will or different relatives, claim to have a valid copy of the will. The situation may become more complex where documents that amend the will (known as codicils) surface.
  • If the estate includes properties and other assets in foreign countries.
  • If there were dependants who are left out of the will and who may have valid claims against the estate of the deceased.
  • Where there are unidentified creditors of the deceased. You may be held personally liable if you fail to follow the correct procedure for making reasonable attempts to find the creditors.
  • Where the deceased had lent money to debtors.
  • Where the executors or administrators have to deal with different financial institutions in relation to the accounts of the deceased, as each institution may have its own rules.

Our wills and probate team have considerable experience in successfully dealing with many issues that arise when administrating estates. Our in-depth knowledge allows us to identify potential complications early and tackle them before they can cause delays or other problems.

Contact our Probate Lawyers in London

Administering an estate can be a time consuming and complex process. It is not uncommon for it to take 12 months or more to administer the estate fully, for example, because assets are located in more than one country. We can help you navigate the maze of probate law. Should you wish to discuss any issue relating to Wills and probate, contact our friendly and sympathetic team based in Whitechapel, East London.

To arrange a consultation, speak with a member of our probate team today on 0207 790 2000 or complete our online enquiry form.