Personal Legal Services

Probate Solicitors

The loss of a loved one is never easy. Navigating probate shouldn't be either. Garratts' compassionate probate team offers expert guidance, easing your burden with care.

Navigating the complexities of probate and estate administration can be challenging, especially when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. At Garratts, our probate solicitors understand the emotional toll that this process can take, and we are committed to providing compassionate and expert guidance to help you through this difficult time.

We will carefully guide you through every step, from gathering and valuing assets and obtaining the Grant to paying debts and distributing inheritances. We will also address any contested wills or estates with the utmost sensitivity and expertise. Speak to our team on 0161 665 3502 or request a callback.


What is ‘Probate’? 

The Grant of Probate is issued once the Will of the deceased is sent into Court to prove it is the legally binding statement of their last wishes. People often refer to ‘Probate’ when they wish to describe the legal process of the administration of the estate of a deceased person. 

If there is no Will, the intestacy rules will set out how an estate is to be dealt with, and the Personal Representative entitled to deal with the estate of the deceased under those intestacy rules, as prescribed by law, will apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration (rather than a Grant of Probate.)

Not every estate will require a Grant of either Probate or Letters of Administration, however every estate will need to be administered, no matter how small or large.

This process involves identifying and valuing the assets of the estate, paying off any debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries as specified in the deceased's Will or under the intestacy rules.

The primary purpose of estate administration is to ensure that the deceased's assets are distributed in a fair and orderly manner. It also helps to protect the interests of creditors and beneficiaries by ensuring that all financial obligations, such as debts and taxes, are settled before the assets are distributed. It ensures that this process provides a clear legal framework for managing the deceased's estate.


What is the process of obtaining Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration?

The probate process is a legal procedure that occurs after someone dies to manage and distribute their estate according to their will or, if there is no will, per the laws of intestacy. Here's a general overview of the process:

  1. Verification of the Will: If the deceased left a Will, the first step is to verify its validity in a probate court. This process, known as 'granting probate', confirms the will as the legitimate last testament of the deceased.
  2. Appointment of Executor or Administrator: The executor named in the Will, or an administrator appointed by the court in cases where there is no Will, is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estate This individual has the legal authority to gather and manage the deceased's assets.
  3. Inventory of the Estate: The executor or administrator must compile a comprehensive inventory of the deceased's assets. This includes everything from property and investments to personal belongings.
  4. Valuation of the Estate: The assets are then valued to determine the total worth of the estate. This valuation is crucial for tax purposes and equitable distribution among beneficiaries.
  5. Settling Debts and Taxes: Before the assets can be distributed, any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased must be paid. This might include funeral expenses, personal loans, credit card debts, and income or estate taxes.
  6. Distribution of the Estate: After settling debts and taxes, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will. If there is no will, the assets are distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which typically prioritise close relatives.
  7. Closing the Estate: Once all debts are paid and the assets are distributed, the executor or administrator will provide final estate accounts to the beneficiaries of the estate and finalise any final issues with HMRC as required. 


What should be considered when administering an estate?

When administering an estate, it's important to consider:

  • The accurate valuation of the estate.
  • The settlement of any debts and taxes owed by the estate.
  • The fair and legal distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
  • Compliance with all legal requirements and deadlines.


What is the difference between Grant of Probate and Grant of Letters of Administration?

The difference lies in the presence or absence of a valid will at the time of a person's death. Probate is granted to allow the named Executor of the Will to administer a deceased person's estate in accordance with the terms of that Will. 

Intestacy, on the other hand, occurs when a person dies without a valid Will. In such cases, the estate is distributed according to the intestacy laws of the jurisdiction. These laws typically prioritise close relatives like spouses, children, and parents in the estate distribution. Intestacy can often lead to more complex legal proceedings, as the deceased has made no clear statement on how their assets should be allocated.


How long does an estate take to administer in England and Wales?

The administration of an estate in England and Wales typically spans between six and twelve months. However, the actual timeframe can fluctuate due to various factors that influence the complexity of the estate and potential legal disputes.

Here's a breakdown of the average probate timeline in England and Wales:

  1. Filing the Application for Probate: 6-8 weeks
  2. Grant of Probate Issued: 16-20 weeks
  3. Settling Debts and Taxes: 4-6 months
  4. Distributing Assets: 2-4 months

Factors that can prolong the probate process include:

  • Estate Size: Larger estates with extensive assets and liabilities can demand more time, as there are more details to gather and paperwork to process.
  • Debts and Litigation: If the deceased had substantial debts or disagreements over the will, the probate process may be delayed while these matters are resolved.
  • Executor Experience: An experienced executor who is knowledgeable about probate procedures can usually expedite the process, while a less experienced executor may require more guidance and time.
  • Court Delays: court backlogs or delays can prolong the probate timeline. It is generally recommended to aim to complete probate within a year of the deceased's passing. This is referred to as the "executor's year," and it is a common expectation among beneficiaries. Seeking professional legal advice can help executors' personal representatives navigate the probate process smoothly and efficiently.


What documents do you need to start the administration of an estate?

To initiate the probate process in England and Wales, you'll need to gather and submit the following documents:

  1. Original Will: The original copy of the deceased's last Will and Testament, along with any codicils or amendments made to the Will.
  2. Death Certificate: An official copy of the deceased's death certificate obtained from the General Register Office (GRO).
  3. Inventory of Assets and Liabilities: A comprehensive list of all assets owned by the deceased at the time of their passing. This includes details such as bank accounts, investments, property holdings, personal belongings, and any outstanding debts or liabilities.
  4. Evidence of Identity: The executor will need to provide proof of their identity, such as a passport or driving license, and proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank statement.

In addition to these essential documents, the executor may need to provide supplementary documentation depending on the specific circumstances of the estate. For instance, if the deceased owned property abroad or has made significant gifts in later life, additional paperwork and information may be required.

Our solicitors will then be able to use the information provided to draft the application for the Grant of Probate or the Grant of Letters of Administration, ensuring that the same is submitted to the appropriate Probate Registry for the nature of the estate. We will also ensure that the correct forms are submitted to HMRC depending on the status of the estate for Inheritance tax.

Can you apply for Grant of Probate/Grant of Letters of Administration yourself?

The Probate Registry allows you to apply online or by posting the appropriate forms. However, it is important to note that probate can be a complex legal process, and there are many rules and regulations that you need to follow. 

If you are not familiar with the law, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a probate solicitor to ensure that your application is processed correctly and efficiently.

Similarly, with the Inheritance Tax, the rules can vary significantly depending on the nature of the estate, who inherits and whether the deceased was married/widowed. There are penalties levied against estates where the proper returns for Inheritance Tax are not made in a timely manner and it is vital that an Executor or Personal Representative takes correct steps.


What are the fees for probate solicitors?

The fees for probate solicitors can vary based on the complexity of the estate and the specific services required. Additional charges may apply for more complex requirements or additional services.

For a detailed breakdown of fees and to understand the costs associated with your specific needs, it's best to refer to the comprehensive fee structure provided. You can find this information and more details here

Why choose Garratts’ probate solicitors?

At Garratts, we are known for our exceptional expertise and empathetic handling of probate affairs. Our team, equipped with extensive knowledge and experience, ensures a seamless and dignified management of the estate. We are available for consultations at your convenience, including home or hospital visits, across multiple locations.

Contact us at 0161 665 3502 for these services. Alternatively, our online enquiry form is available for prompt and efficient responses to your queries. 


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