Bartletts Solicitors offers our clients a winning team with real experience in probate matters and genuine expertise in this often complex area of law. Probate is the official process of proving the validity of a will, by which the named executors are granted the legal right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs and distribute their estate to the intended beneficiaries.
Obtaining what is known as a Grant of Probate from the court and subsequently settling a person’s estate can be a time-consuming and paperwork-intensive process, clouded in legal jargon, and for this reason the services of a specialist solicitor are often desirable to make it as orderly and stress-free as possible.
Once a will is deemed to be valid and a Grant of Probate is issued by the court, one or more executors are handed the authority to manage the deceased person’s assets and estate. This may include closing bank accounts, the sale or transfer of stocks, shares and other investments, and selling properties in the UK and/or overseas. Apart from money coming in, there will also be various financial outgoings including paying outstanding debts, funeral costs and taxes.
Dealing with a deceased person’s tax matters can be a complicated process in itself, with Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax and Inheritance Tax each requiring the submission of different tax returns. After such matters have been addressed, the estate will need to be valued, accounts prepared and the remaining assets distributed to the named heirs.
When a person dies without leaving a will or else their will is held to be invalid they are deemed to have died intestate, and a Letter of Administration will be required from the court in place of a Grant of Probate to appoint the appropriate people (usually the next of kin) to deal with the estate. Again, the legal and tax requirements involved can be onerous, particularly in terms of unfamiliar paperwork which, if completed incorrectly, can have serious consequences in terms of failing to fulfill a deceased person’s wishes, and can even involve personal financial liability for any errors.
Dealing with such complicated matters during a period of bereavement can be both stressful and demanding, and the assistance of an expert probate law firm like Bartletts Solicitors can alleviate the burden to some extent, as well as ensure that the whole process is handled in an efficient and expeditious manner.
Louise Nelson is a solicitor in Liverpool City Centre for Letters of Administration.
The importance of a person putting their affairs in order prior to their passing has been highlighted by the Bereavement Index 2021 Report
. Two-thirds of legal professionals surveyed in the report stated that at least a quarter (25%) of probate cases are hampered by delays in obtaining the necessary information from financial institutions, adding a minimum of four weeks to the probate process.
According to the report, probate cases take an average of around three months to complete, although this can stretch to up to a year in one in 14 cases. The main problem and cause of delay that probate solicitors face when a deceased individual did not leave their affairs in order is finding the relevant assets that form part of the estate. The report concludes that it takes an average of two months longer to complete a probate case in these circumstances.
Just over half (51%) of the legal professionals who had recently handled probate cases stated that the process took longer than expected, with 88% deeming it ‘slow and complicated’. While the hope is that the probate process will become simpler and faster in the future, the current system shows that the services of a skilled and experienced probate solicitor are essential to identifying relevant assets, obtaining a Grant of Probate, and settling a deceased person’s estate promptly and according to their wishes.