For Individuals

Administering an estate can be onerous. Even where the estate is relatively modest, complications can arise and the work is always “paper heavy” and demands a great deal of time and care.

Being an executor or administrator of an estate can be hard work and it carries personal liability if anything is not done correctly or if important legal points are missed. For example, HM Revenue and Customs can impose severe financial penalties for comparatively trivial errors made in Inheritance Tax Accounts.

Let our dedicated team assist you with all aspects of the administration of an estate. Whether or not there is a Will and whatever the size of the estate, our estate administration solicitors have the required expertise to guide you with confidence.

For immediate advice, please contact our team or you can read our FAQs to learn more about the administration of an estate.

Why trust Clifton Ingram for Estate Administration law?

  • One of the leading law firms in the Thames Valley and M3 Corridor
  • As a firm, we have strong rankings in the respected client guide, The Legal 500, which recognises us as some of the best solicitors in the region
  • Decades of experience in providing estate administration legal advice
  • The expertise to handle the estate administration process promptly and efficiently, including in complex and high value cases
  • Strong skills in constructive negotiation and alternative dispute resolution, meaning we are able to deal effectively with contentious probate cases
  • Ready to take immediate, firm action to protect your interests when needed
  • A service tailored to suit your needs

Our Estate Administration service includes:

  • Confirming the validity of a Will
  • Advising you on who inherits where there is no valid Will and on the implications of the Administration of Estates Act 1925
  • Registering the death with numerous third parties and arranging for assets and liabilities to be valued
  • Completing tax returns and inheritance tax accounts for HM Revenue and Customs
  • Advising you on the payment and mitigation of inheritance tax
  • Obtaining the grant of representation
  • Advising on all aspects of trusts
  • Dealing with UK tax matters
  • Advising on debts of the estate and your responsibilities as executors/administrators to ascertain the full extent of the estate and to pay all outstanding estate liabilities
  • Advising on foreign assets
  • Advising on disputes including with executors, beneficiaries, family members and HM Revenue & Customs
  • Realising and transferring estate assets including, property and stock exchange-based investments
  • Preparing estate accounts
  • Locating and identifying beneficiaries
  • Dealing with the distribution of the estate
  • Advising upon the distribution of estates in a tax efficient manner, taking into account the needs of indvidual beneficiaries, with view to mitigating tax where possible, including the preparation of Deeds of Variation.

Contact our Probate and Estate Administration Solicitors in Farnham, Reading and Wokingham.

Our proactive and approachable team of experienced estate administration solicitors work from offices in Farnham, Reading and Wokingham. We deal with probate and estate administration for clients from all over Berkshire, as well as Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and further afield.

Speak to one of our estate administration solicitors today by calling 0118 978 0099 or using the contact form to the right of the page and we will respond quickly.

Learn more about the administration of an estate:

How do I apply for administration of an estate?

If there is a Will and you were named as an executor, you must apply for a grant of probate to give you the legal authority to deal with the estate and its assets. If there was no Will, you would instead need to apply for a grant of letters of administration to achieve the same effect.

Our team can support you through applying for grant of probate or letters of administration, making the process as simple and stress-free as possible for you.

What is the process for administering an estate?

Dealing with an estate administration can be a lengthy process with several stages. Some of the main steps are as follows:

Value the estate

The first stage is to value the estate. This includes obtaining a value for all of the deceased’s assets and liabilities. Assets include: savings, investments, property and personal possessions, such as cars, jewellery and furniture. Debts include: any unpaid tax, outstanding care fees, a mortgage and credit card balances.

The executor or administrator should send a copy of the death certificate to each asset holder and ask for a valuation at the date of death. In respect of property or valuable personal items, a professional valuation can be obtained if necessary.

Once all of the figures are received, the value of the net estate can be calculated by subtracting the total liabilities from the total assets.

It is also necessary to find out how much the deceased gave away in gifts over the seven years preceding their death, as this can have inheritance tax implications.

Calculate and pay Inheritance Tax

The value of the net estate is used to ascertain whether inheritance tax is payable. There are a number of allowances and exemptions that can be used and you may want to seek professional advice to ensure that you take advantage of all available benefits.

If it appears that inheritance tax will be payable, you will need to contact HM Revenue & Customs and ask for a reference number that you will be able to use in all correspondence with them.

Once you know how much inheritance tax is due, this needs to be sent to HM Revenue & Customs with the inheritance tax account. This consists of a main form plus various schedules relating to each type of asset and liability. There are also forms for other items such as money owed to the deceased prior to the date of death, assets held in trust, business assets and goods left to charity. The forms are extensive and it is important to fill them in accurately.

You can usually settle the inheritance tax liability of the estate by using the deceased’s funds held in their bank or building society accounts. You will need to ask the relevant institution whether they participate in the direct payment scheme with HM Revenue & Customs. If they do, you will then be able to send them the required form to authorise the payment to be made directly to HM Revenue & Customs on behalf of the estate.

Apply for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration

After about three weeks time from submitting the inheritance tax forms and payment, you can apply to the Probate Registry for a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration. This is the legal document that gives the estate’s representative legal authority to wind up the deceased’s affairs.

If the deceased left a Will, their executor will apply for a grant of probate. If they did not leave a Will, then someone entitled to inherit the estate under the rules of intestacy can apply as the estate’s administrator and request a grant of letters of administration.

Collect in the estate assets and pay any debts

Once the grant has been received, a copy should be sent to all asset holders. They will then close the accounts and send the balance to the estate’s executor or administrator.

The executor or administrator will also need to clear all of the deceased’s debts. In some cases, it is advisable to place advertisements in the press requesting that creditors make themselves known if they were owed money by the deceased prior to the date of death.

If the deceased owned a property that needs to be sold, this can be dealt with once the grant has been received. While it is open to the executors to market a property before a grant has been issued, a sale cannot be completed until the grant has been issued.

Prepare estate accounts

Once all of the assets have been collected and the debts cleared, detailed estate accounts need to be prepared. These should contain details of all assets and liabilities as well as estate income for the administration period and details of the amount to be paid to each beneficiary.

Distribute the estate

Once the estate administration has been completed, the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will or entitled to inherit under the rules of intestacy. Receipts should be obtained confirming that everything has been paid.

What happens if the deceased did not leave a Will?

A surprising number of people do not make a Will. This means that their estate will pass in accordance with the rules of intestacy which set out, in order of priority, who is entitled to inherit.

Intestacy rules favour spouses and civil partners, followed by any living children of the deceased. Exactly who is entitled to inherit will depend on who survives the deceased and the value of the estate.

If the deceased did not leave a spouse or civil partner or children, the next in line to inherit would be parents, followed by siblings.

Unmarried partners and stepchildren are not entitled to inherit anything under the intestacy rules.

Do I need probate to sell a house?

If the deceased owned a property, then it is always necessary to obtain a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration in order to sell the property, unless it was jointly owned with another person as joint tenants. In this case, the property would automatically pass to the survivor and would not form part of the deceased’s estate for the purposes of the grant of probate application

If the deceased jointly owned a property with someone else and it was held as tenants in common, the deceased’s share will pass in accordance with the terms of their Will.

How long does it take to get probate?

The estate administration process is lengthy, not least in securing a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration. The Probate Registry is prone to backlogs and it often takes around three to four months, if not longer, for the grant to be issued, once the papers have been submitted, assuming the case is straightforward and no enquiries need to be raised.

Do I need a probate solicitor to deal with estate administration?

Whether you need a probate solicitor will depend on the amount of time you have to devote to winding up an estate as well as how complex it is likely to be. There is a substantial amount of paperwork involved including calculating inheritance tax and preparing detailed estate accounts.

Because of the time factor, it is often the case that executors or administrators prefer to ask a probate solicitor to deal with the estate administration. This also avoids the risk of personal liability, should an executor make a mistake that costs the estate money.

Reasonable administration costs will be deducted from the estate as an expense.

Our estate administration fees

We will make sure you have an accurate costs estimate from the outset and should any unforeseen circumstances arise, we will review our charges and keep you advised of any changes.

For comprehensive information on our fees, see our uncontested probate pricing page.

For more information about our services, see our Wills, tax, trusts and Probate page.

Contact our estate administration service solicitors in Farnham, Reading and Wokingham.

Our experienced probate and estate administration solicitors work from offices in Farnham, Reading and Wokingham. We provide estate administration services for clients from all over Berkshire, as well as Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and further afield.

Speak to one of our estate administration solicitors today by calling 0118 978 0099 or using the contact form to the right of the page and we will respond quickly.

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