Probate and Estate Administration
Most estates (unless of very low value) cannot usually be administered until a grant of probate or letters of administration has been obtained.
Probate is the legal term for having a will “proved” (i.e. verified by the court) after death. The Grant of Probate is proof that the executors appointed by the will are legally entitled to administer the estate.
Letters of Administration
A person who dies without a valid will is said to have died intestate. The law sets out who can administer the estate and how the assets are to be distributed. The administrators will usually need a Grant of letters of Administration to confer legal authority on them to deal with the estate of the deceased.
The length of time and the cost involved in administrating an estate will vary in each case according to the nature and complexity of the work to be done. This will involve obtaining valuations of all the assets of the estate, agreeing any Inheritance Tax liability and then applying for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. Once granted the next step will be to gather in the assets and administer them according to the will or intestacy rules.
Often it will be necessary to deal with income and capital gains tax issues arising before death or during the course of the administration of the estate.
In some cases a Trust may arise under the provisions of a will or intestacy and that Trust could last for many years.
A trust is created when one or more people (trustees) are appointed to hold assets for another person or class of people (beneficiaries). The trusts may be created for many reasons such as providing for young children, someone with a disability, simply to safeguard assets for future generations or as part of tax planning.
How can we help?
We provide sympathetic advice and support throughout this process. Our probate, trusts and tax partner Nathan Bowles is a member of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners, the leading professional body for specialists in this area of work.