Sowerby is registered as a licenced probate firm. This enables us to carry out non contentious probate work and also assist clients with drafting a will.
It also means that when the time comes, we can undertake all aspects of the probate process. Throughout your time as a client we will have already obtained most of the financial information required, which means we will be well placed to deliver a cost effective service and maximise any amounts due to be paid to beneficiaries.
WHEN SOMEBODY DIES – PROBATE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION: SOME BASIC FACTS
When somebody dies, as well as the grief and anxiety that you will feel at the passing of a loved one, there is also the matter of the deceased person’s estate to think about, and this can cause additional worry and stress.
Dealing with a deceased’s estate is a serious matter and it is easy to find the process confusing and to make mistakes.
Indeed, those undertaking this task are potentially personally liable, and therefore it is a good idea to take professional advice.
Personal Representatives (PRs)
It is the responsibility of the PRs to deal with the administration of the deceased’s estate. The PRs are known as ‘executors’ if they have been appointed by a Will; otherwise, they are called ‘administrators’ of the estate, and the law determines who these should be.
What the PRs Must Do
In a nutshell, the PRs must:
- Submit any required returns to HM Revenue & Customs;
- Pay any Inheritance Tax that is due to HM Revenue & Customs;
- Obtain a Grant of Representation (for instance a Grant of Probate), if required;
- Gather in the assets, and pay liabilities, of the estate;
- Distribute the net estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will (or, if no Will, according to the intestacy rules);
- Prepare estate accounts, if these are required.
In practice, each of these areas of responsibility can be quite complex, and there may be other responsibilities too, for instance practical arrangements such as notifying relevant parties, redirecting post, securing property, or dealing with insurance issues.
The task must be carried out with a high degree of care and caution, as there are various ways in which mistakes can be made, which may result in the PRs becoming personally liable.
Common pitfalls include:
- Incorrect completion of forms submitted to HM Revenue & Customs;
- Failing to recognise creditors of the estate;
- Incorrect distribution of the estate, for instance due to non-payment of creditors, or misinterpretation of the Will (or of the intestacy rules, in the absence of a Will).
How Can We Help?
We strongly advise PRs to take professional advice, in order to help them through the process, and to protect them from falling into the pitfalls and potentially becoming personally liable for any mistakes; and we can provide that advice.
If you do choose to use our services, we will tailor that service to your specific needs and wishes. A minimal level of advice might simply be to review documents such as the Will, your completion of forms, etc, while on the other hand you may wish us to carry out all or most of the work for you, on your behalf.
How to Proceed
We would offer a first meeting at no cost, at which your exact needs and circumstances can be discussed; you are not committed to using our services at this stage. After that first meeting, should you choose to engage our services, these would be subject to our standard engagement letter, which we would ask you to sign before our work can begin.
We usually charge our work on the basis of time taken at set hourly rates of charge, which will be clearly shown in our engagement letter. We may be able to provide you with an estimated fee at the initial meeting, though this will depend largely on the expected nature and complexity of the work.
This short summary is given for guidance only.
We cannot accept any responsibility for actions taken by you based on this summary alone.