Specialist probate solicitors across Surrey
Losing a loved one is always traumatic. However, trying to deal with bureaucracy of death can be particularly difficult. This is why placing the process in the hands of a specialist probate solicitor is sometimes the most pragmatic thing to do; it can help reduce the time-pressure, stress and potential contention inherent in doing it yourself.
Wellers Hedleys probate solicitors in Effingham and Great Bookham can help you negotiate the process of applying for Grant of Probate and steer you through administering and distributing the deceased’s estate.
For more information about the probate process in Surrey, read on below.
Grant of probate
The named executors must apply for grant of probate before the process of dealing with a deceased person’s estate, including distribution of assets, money and property, can be commenced. Generally, if the estate contains property, a grant of probate will be required.
However some “small” estates valued at less than £5,000, will not need to go through the full probate process. The same applies in cases where the deceased owned everything jointly with another, surviving party, usually their spouse or civil partner.
In the absence of a Will the deceased’s next of kin will need to apply for letters of administration so they can oversee the handling of the estate.
Apply for grant of probate
The executor should perform an inventory of the deceased’s estate to establish a value and determine whether any Inheritance Tax (IHT) is due. The following forms should be completed (where relevant):
- Form PA 1 – Probate Application Form: This postal form requires information about the deceased, their Will, the beneficiaries, family and the executors. It can also be completed online. The Probate Registry uses the information to determine who should receive grant of probate or letters of administration, whether it is necessary to form a trust and, in the case of intestacy, to identify possible beneficiaries.
- Form IHT 400: This is used to determine the level of inheritance tax payable.
- Form IHT 205 – Return of Estate Information: this is used in cases where an estate is exempt or excepted from Inheritance Tax.
Both forms, IHT 400 and IHT 205 can be filled in online. If the estate contains a residence owned by the deceased which is going to be inherited by direct descendents, the executor may be able to claim for residence nil rate band (RNRB) and should fill out Form IHT 435.
The executor must complete all the relevant forms and send required documents including the original Will and copies, plus the death certificate and probate fee (£155 if the application is made by a solicitor, and £215 if made by an individual), and they must sign a statement of truth declaring that the details provided are accurate. If any Inheritance Tax is due it must be paid at this point.
In some cases, it may be necessary to arrange a loan to pay the probate fee and IHT as it may not be possible to release funds from the estate to meet the cost at this point.
An experienced probate solicitor will be able to complete the forms and deal with the Registry on your behalf.
After grant of probate is received
In many ways, this is when the hardest work begins. Executors should ensure they have a number of authorised copies of the grant of probate, as well as the death certificate, to pass on to relevant parties, including banks, building societies, debtors and creditors including utilities providers.
How long does the probate process take?
The amount of time it takes to complete the probate process in Surrey will depend on various factors, such as the complexity and value of the estate. Other relevant factors include whether there is any disagreement regarding the Will or the probate process in general. Also whether there is an international element to the estate, whether there is any missing or conflicting documentation, and whether there are any assets or property to liquidate.
Can you get grant of probate if there is no Will?
If there is no Will, the next of kin will need to apply to the Probate Registry to obtain letters of administration. An administrator can be appointed once any applicable Inheritance Tax is paid and then the administrator will be able to distribute the estate among spouses, civil partners and children according to the rules of intestacy.
If an intestate estate is particularly large or complex, it will almost certainly be necessary to seek the representation of an experienced probate solicitor as the rules of intestacy must be followed carefully to ensure correct distribution.
Why use a probate solicitor?
There is no legal requirement to use a probate solicitor, but doing so can help ease the administrative burden particularly if the estate is valuable, complex or subject to dispute. Families today may contain cohabiting partners, previous spouses and step children, and this can often make dividing an estate problematic if a Will has not been constructed or updated to account for this.
Being an executor can be extremely time consuming and may also stir up many emotions at what is already likely to be a sensitive time, so having the assistance of an experienced professional means a significant portion of the load can be lifted. Plus, as executors can be held liable for any mistakes made in distributing the estate and settling creditor claims, a probate solicitor is almost certainly better placed to ensure the probate rules are upheld and that the process is carried out correctly.
Resources for bereavement in Surrey
There are a number of local organisations which provide support for those experiencing bereavement in Surrey.
Information about some of these can be found below:
- Funeral Directory: A search facility to help you find a local funeral director who is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.
- Surrey Bereavement Guide: Information on bereavement and what to do when someone dies.
- Cruse Bereavement Care: Cruse in South West Surrey.
- Cruse Bereavement Care: Cruse in Surrey East.
- Cruse Bereavement Care: Cruse in Surrey North.
Wellers Hedleys’ probate solicitors in Surrey
Wellers Hedleys can help you confidently negotiate the probate process wherever you are in Surrey.
We pride ourselves on providing a professional service with a personal touch that alleviates some of the emotional and administrative drain of DIY probate. For more information contact our Great Bookham office today.