If you are looking for ‘Probate Solicitors Near Me’, it is safe to assume that you are in need of specialist advice on a probate matter.
Our Norwich based expert probate solicitors have in-depth understanding of probate practice and procedure and a wealth of experience in probate matters.
They can assist you in navigating complicated and overwhelming probate procedures and provide sensitive, straightforward advice to help you understand the legal process and ensure the matter runs as smoothly as possible.
What Is Probate?
Simply put, probate is the legal right to deal with the estate (money and other property) of a person who has died.
If the deceased leaves a Will, they usually nominate someone (or several people) to act as executor of their estate. An executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased, as detailed in the Will, and ensuring all of the estate’s debts and liabilities are cleared. An executor can be a friend or family member of the deceased or might be a professional, such as a solicitor.
If the deceased does not leave a Will (known as ‘dying intestate’), inheritance laws decide who can deal with the estate. The spouse or civil partner of the deceased is the first choice, followed by other family members, including children and siblings, in a specific order. Those chosen are referred to as administrators. In this situation, since the deceased has not specified who should inherit the estate, the law will dictate the order of beneficiaries in accordance with the ‘Intestacy Rules’. Administrators are responsible for settling the deceased’s debts and liabilities before distributing the estate to the relevant beneficiaries.
Before they can deal with an estate, executors often need to apply for a grant of probate; administrators, for a letter of administration. Once obtained, these documents allow the relevant individuals to proceed with estate administration.
Probate lasts until all debts and taxes have been paid and the remainder of the estate distributed to beneficiaries according to the Will or Intestacy Rules. This process takes, on average, between 6-12 months but can vary greatly, depending on the nature and complexity of the estate.
Do I Need A Probate Solicitor?
Whilst you do not need a probate solicitor to apply for probate and deal with an estate, many executors and administrators choose to use one to guide them through the complex and, at times, onerous probate process. Many estates involve complex financial, taxation and legal issues, and since executors and administrators are personally liable for the estate, it is crucial that they carry out their duties correctly and in line with the law. If, for example, it transpires down the line that the wrong amount of inheritance tax was paid in respect of an estate, an executor can be held personally liable for any shortfall.
Solicitors are routinely instructed when an estate is large or complex. Since the probate period is often wrought with grief and emotion, those dealing with smaller or more straightforward estates may also seek legal advice to provide reassurance and lessen the already significant burden of losing a loved one.
Examples of specific situations in which legal advice relating to probate is regularly sought include those where –
- The value of the estate exceeds the threshold for inheritance tax;
- There are taxes due;
- The validity of the Will has been called into question;
- The deceased did not leave a Will, and so the complex Rules of Intestacy need to be applied;
- The Will is contested;
- The Will contains a Trust;
- The deceased owned assets overseas.
What Do Probate Solicitors Do?
Our specialist probate solicitors will give as much or as little help as you need to efficiently navigate the complex probate procedure and ensure you fulfil your legal obligations. They will undertake various tasks as required, including reviewing all relevant estate papers, identifying and settling tax liabilities with HMRC and overseeing the distribution of assets.
Examples of specific tasks they may undertake on your behalf include–
- Locating and securing the deceased’s assets;
- Obtaining valuations of the deceased’s property;
- Preparing and filing all relevant Court documentation;
- Determining whether any taxes are due, applying any tax reliefs and exemptions, resolving tax issues and settling tax liability;
- Collecting proceeds from life insurance policies;
- Settling any debts;
- Distributing assets to the correct beneficiaries.
How Much Do Probate Solicitors Charge and are there any Fixed Fee Probate Solicitors Near Me?
The amount charged by probate solicitors usually depends on the size and complexity of the estate. Our Norwich-based expert probate solicitors can offer a fixed fee probate service based on a small percentage of the value of the estate.