I have obtained the death certificate(s) and the funeral is arranged – What has to be done now and who has to do it?

First you need to find out whether the deceased left a Will. That will tell you who is to act as ‘executor’ (meaning who will sort out the estate) and who is going to receive what from the estate. If there is no Will the next of kin will probably need to speak to a solicitor for advice on intestacy

What if I have found the Will but do not understand what it means, can you help?

Yes we can.

What are the duties of an executor?

The duties of an executor are many and they vary. They are responsible for collecting in all the assets of the estate and distributing them in accordance with the Will. They also need to make sure that any debts including inheritance tax are paid and may have to do income tax returns and estate accounts.

Must the executors get legal advice?

No, but depending on the estate involved it may well be a good idea to do so. If the estate is very small, say under £15,000, the executors are often able to do everything themselves particularly if they are close to (or are) the people who benefit from the estate. In larger or more complicated estates it is usually better for the executors to get legal advice to make sure they get everything right as they can be personally liable to the beneficiaries.

I have been given something in the Will of someone who died, but I want to give it away. Can I do this without it ever being treated as having belonged to me?

Yes, in most circumstances we can prepare a Deed of Variation and change things that way. This will mean that from an inheritance tax point of view it is as if the person who died made the gift and not you.

How long does all this take?

It varies. Some estates are resolved within 6 to 12 months but some take a lot longer, depending mainly on the financial affairs of the deceased.

Costs

Please note that in respect of Probate matters, work is done on an hourly rate basis.

Estimates can be given for the various stages of Probate but you would need to give specific details in order that we could provide an estimate to you as the time required to be spent on Probates varies enormously depending on the complexity and size of the Estate.

As very much a basic guide, if the Estate has a total value of £150,000.00, then the guide cost for obtaining the Grant of Probate and then dealing with the administration is £3,000.00 plus VAT (£600.00) and a very rough guide if the Estate is valued at £500,000.00 would be, for obtaining Grant of Probate and then administering the Estate, is approximately £10,000.00 plus VAT (£2,000.00).  However, it must be stressed that these are very approximate figures as some Estates are by their nature more complex than others.

Please also note that there will generally be a fee payable to HMCTS in order to obtain the Grant of Probate which is currently £155.00.