Probate, intestacy & estate administration

When a person dies leaving a Will, their assets and circumstances at death may require their Executors to obtain a Grant of Probate, thereby allowing their estate to be administered correctly in accordance with the Will.

In the case of a person who has died leaving no Will, the rules of intestacy will dictate who can act as Personal Representatives and are entitled to obtain the Grant of Letters of Administration.  The Grant of Probate and the Grant of Letters of Administration serve the same purpose and, together with the other more specialist variants, are collectively referred to as Grants of Representation.

The Grant of Representation allows the deceased’s estate to be administered which entails obtaining control of the deceased’s assets, liquidating investments and accounts where necessary, settling outstanding debts and expenses and distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the Will, where there is one, or in accordance with the rules of intestacy, where there is no Will.

In some instances, we may be asked to assist in extracting the Grant of Representation only.  In others, clients may wish for us to obtain the Grant and then fully administer the estate.

Extracting the Grant of Representation

We act in both complex and more straightforward estates. Complexity is not always determined by the extent and value of the deceased’s assets at death, but rather the legal issues involved.  This is especially so where the deceased may not have put sufficient arrangements in place during their lifetime, or where other factors such as incapacity are identified.

The process involved in obtaining the Grant of Representation typically involves ascertaining the full extent of the deceased’s worldwide assets and liabilities and preparing the necessary Probate Registry and Inheritance Tax documentation, referred to as the Probate Papers.  Analysis of the deceased’s assets is essential and valuations will be sought, at times with the assistance of other professionals such as stock-brokers, accountants, investment managers, auction houses and surveyors. A full understanding of the deceased’s involvement in other arrangements, such as existing Trusts and business interests, will be needed.

In taxable estates, Inheritance Tax will be payable prior to making the application for the Grant of Representation.

Estate administration

The Grant of Representation facilities the administration of the estate allowing outstanding liabilities and testamentary expenses to be met from the deceased’s assets.

Depending on the terms of the Will, or in the case of intestacy the wishes of the Beneficiaries, consideration will then need to be given to the remaining assets.  In straightforward matters, these may be encashed with balances being distributed to those who are entitled.  More often, assets may need to be distributed in accordance with very specific instructions set out in the Will.

Funds may be set aside until Beneficiaries reach a certain age and Trust arrangements set out in the Will for asset protection and tax planning reasons may need to be formalised.

Executors and Personal Representatives will need to account to Beneficiaries setting out their entitlement and providing full transparency of the assets and liabilities in the estate and the costs incurred during the administration period.

Depending on the circumstances and assets in the estate, Beneficiaries may need to be located, physical assets may need to delivered, properties cleared and sold, and possessions auctioned.

To protect the Executors and Personal Representatives, who can be held personally responsible for any discrepancies during the administration of an estate, searches and notices may need to be undertaken, insurance considered and indemnities obtained.

For information concerning the basis of our charges concerning Probate and the administration of estates, please click the link.

Estate planning

Benefitting under an estate provides an opportunity for estate, wealth and tax planning to be undertaken by Beneficiaries and is a key area of our expertise where we are able to add value for our clients.

Often, it is a good time for Beneficiaries to review their own arrangements.   We regularly advise Beneficiaries on ways to structure their inheritance and how to tailor it to their own wishes and objectives which will often provide tax savings and wider asset protection both in the immediate short-term and for future generations.

Our team can advise you on:

  • Probate
  • Intestacy
  • Estate administration
  • Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax
  • Agricultural & Business Property Relief
  • Administration of foreign assets
  • Administration of business and agricultural assets
  • Estate, wealth and tax planning opportunities
  • Deeds of Variation
  • Executors’, Trustees’ & Personal Representatives’ duties and responsibilities
  • Beneficiaries’ entitlements