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Probate and Estate Administration


Do you need help with estate administration?

When someone close to you dies, there is often a lot to do, at what can be an emotionally draining time. One task that needs to be considered at an early stage is the sorting out of the deceased person’s financial affairs.

The people responsible for administering an estate are those named as the Executors of a Will or the people who will benefit under the rules of intestacy, who become Administrators. The Executors/Administrators are collectively referred to as personal representatives (“PRs”).

The first issue a PR needs to consider is whether or not it is necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation. Where there is a Will, the main Grant of Representation is called Probate and where there is no Will, the Grant is called “Letters of Administration”. A Grant of Representation is often required to prove the PR’s authority to administer the estate and until the Grant has been issued the assets in the estate are frozen. However, it is often not necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation to administer the estate:

  • where an estate is made up of assets held in joint names; or
  • any assets held in the sole name of the person who has died have a relatively low value.

Most assets held in joint names pass by survivorship and all you need to do is produce a copy of the Death Certificate to the institution involved and they will automatically transfer that asset into the survivor’s name. Where assets have a relatively low value (what the limit is will depend on each individual institution) then most institutions will not insist on you obtaining a Grant of Representation. In these cases, you will be asked to complete a form produced by that institution, confirming your authority to administer the estate.

It will be necessary to obtain a Grant of Representation where there are assets held in a deceased person’s sole name which have a more substantial value. If a Grant of Representation is required, then it is up to the PRs to decide whether they want to obtain a Grant themselves or instruct a Solicitor to do so on their behalf.

The first step to obtaining a Grant of Representation is to gather information about the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. This information is needed to complete a form for the Inland Revenue, which is required when making an application for a Grant of Representation. In some cases, completing the form will be a straightforward exercise but, in others, particularly where the estate is taxable or has, for example, business interests, agricultural property or foreign elements, then it can be complicated.

After the Grant of Representation has been issued, the deceased person’s assets can be collected in/transferred. Any outstanding bills can be settled and legacies paid. This is putting the procedure in simple terms because in practice there will be various issues to deal with, such as the sale of a property, settling the person’s Income Tax and Inheritance Tax affairs, etc. In the case of an intestacy, where there is no Will, it can take a while to establish who is entitled to the estate.

At Bright Solicitors we can assist you with every aspect of the administration of an estate. We would encourage you to give us a ring at an early stage, to discuss what needs to be done. If it transpires that you do not need a solicitor to be involved, then we will tell you that and send you on your way, with some helpful guidance.

If, on the other hand, a Grant of Representation is required, then we will discuss with you the extent to which you want us to be involved. Every estate is different and some are a lot easier to administer than others. In some cases, the PRs want to handle the administration themselves and limit our brief to simply obtaining the Grant of Representation, using information gathered by them. In other cases, PRs will come to us with boxes full of paperwork going back decades and ask us to sort everything out from start to finish.

We are happy to be involved to whatever extent you want us to be and the level of our fees will be agreed with you, on a case-by-case basis, accordingly.

Please read our article on why Probate is important