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Probate services

When it comes to the management of estates, it is vitally important to make sure that everything is dealt with correctly. Our skilled team is on hand to assist you with the difficult process of dealing with someone’s estate, which can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Working together with our clients, we deal with all the necessary paperwork to obtain the grant of probate and distribute the estate to the entitled beneficiaries. This can be a trying time for beneficiaries. We understand how important it is to predict potential problems and ensure they’re dealt with.

We provide a professional and comprehensive estate administration service that is swift, diligent, and respectful so our clients can be put at ease. We prepare inheritance tax returns and estate accounts and can advise on post-death tax planning and deeds of variation. We also deal with agricultural, business, and foreign assets, offering you every assurance that the estate is in good hands.

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TALK TO LODDERS’ LEGAL EXPERTS

Primary contacts

We handle matters with speed, fairness, and sensitivity.  Speak to one of our expert team regarding probate services today.

Louise Igoe, Lodders Solicitors, Private Client, Stratford upon Avon
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team

Meet our expert Probate team:

John Rouse at Lodders Solicitors in Stratford, Warwickshire

John Rouse

Partner

Private Client

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Gill Coombs, Lodders Solicitors, Private Client, Henley in Aden

Gill Coombs

Senior Associate

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Vicki Gulliver, Lodders Solicitors, Associate, Stratford upon Avon

Vicki Gulliver

Associate

Private Client

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Jennifer Russell, Lodders Solicitors, Private Client, Stratford upon Avon

Jennifer Russell

Associate

Private Client

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FAQS

Questions answered

Not sure that this is the service for you? Take a look at some of our frequently asked questions for more information.

Probate is a legal document which gives you the authority to share out the estate of a person who has died according to the instructions left in their will. You may need to apply for probate if you are named in someone's will as an executor.

It is particularly important to get this process right since the executors and administrators are personally liable, which is why we provide a professional and comprehensive estate administration service. Working together with our clients, we deal with all the necessary paperwork to obtain the grant and distribute the estate to the entitled beneficiaries.

Lodders experienced and highly regarded team can help with preparing inheritance tax returns, obtaining the grant of representation from the Probate Registry, and preparing estate accounts. We can also assist in post-death tax planning, and the preparation of deeds of variation.

We can also help set up any trusts arising under the will or the intestacy rules and advise on the best course of action when foreign assets are involved. Our team also has vast experience dealing with disputed estates

An executor of a will typically needs to apply for probate.

A will is a legal document that expresses what happens to an individuals finances, property and assets after their death.

A will may also include other decisions around important responsibilities, such as childcare.

A will is a legal document that expresses what happens to an individuals finances, property and assets after their death.

A will may also include other decisions around important responsibilities, such as childcare.

Obtaining the grant of representation gives the deceased’s personal representatives legal authority to deal with the estate, for example to withdraw money from bank accounts or sell any property.

In some very small estates, typically where the person who died had only bank or building society accounts worth less than £5,000 in their sole name, it may not be necessary to obtain a grant. In this circumstance, the bank or building society would usually want the deceased’s representatives to complete indemnity forms confirming that they would be responsible if any disputes arose about who is entitled to the money.

It may also be unnecessary to obtain a grant if everything that the deceased person owned were able to be dealt with other than under the terms of their will, or the rules of intestacy if no will had been completed. This might be the case if all assets were owned jointly with someone else. Depending on the way that the joint assets were held, these might pass automatically to the surviving owner when the first person dies.

However, where someone dies leaving assets such as a house, land, shares or over £5,000 on bank or building society accounts held in their sole name then a grant will be required.

Initially any original will must be located and details established of all of the executors who survived the deceased person. If there were no surviving executors willing or able to act or there were no will the beneficiaries of the estate or other persons who would be entitled to a grant of representation would need to be ascertained.

Valuations of all of the deceased person’s assets, and those jointly held, and details of all their debts and liabilities including the funeral account must be obtained to calculate and pay any inheritance tax due before the grant can be issued.

This part of administering the estate can take some time because it will be dependant on third parties such as banks providing the relevant information.

Once all the information is received an inheritance tax return must be prepared, and depending on the size and nature of the estate, sent to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) with the initial tax payment due. A sworn statement by the personal representatives about the deceased person, confirmation from HMRC that the initial inheritance tax has been paid or that none is due if appropriate and all other relevant documents are then delivered to the probate registry.

Once all matters have been resolved, final accounts of the estate setting out all the payments to and from it can be prepared and the distribution completed.

The estate beneficiaries may need further advice on their own tax position arising from their entitlements from the estate and any tax planning arrangements that might be beneficial for them.

Sometimes at least part of the estate might pass to a trust which will need to be administered on an ongoing basis on behalf of the trust beneficiaries.

At this point, the estate assets can be dealt with. The liquid assets can be collected in and, if there is a house, land or investments, these can be sold, or transferred to the beneficiaries. Once sufficient cash is received in the estate the debts can be settled and any legacies paid.

The personal representatives should also consider steps to protect themselves from liability from, for example, disappointed beneficiaries and creditors of the deceased. Statutory advertisements can be placed advising that the personal representatives will distribute the estate taking account of only those claims against it of which they were aware unless other claimants notify them within a set period. The personal representatives should also carry out bankruptcy searches on beneficiaries before making distributions in order to protect themselves from personal liability.

There is 100% relief from IHT available on some agricultural property. This relief is however available only on the ‘agricultural value’ of the assets in question. This can particularly be an issue in relation to a farmhouse.

In most cases HMRC will argue that the agricultural value of a farmhouse is around 30% lower than its full open market value. If there were no other relief available, PRs would find that some part of the value of a farmhouse were subject to IHT even if 100% relief were available in principle. As usual, professional advice and a valuation would be essential at the outset although HMRC could still seek to negotiate over the availability of the relief and the value.

There is also 100% relief from IHT available on some business property. This is essentially applicable to shares in a private trading company or interests in a primarily trading business.

The relief is often not available in relation to let properties even where they qualify as ‘furnished holiday lettings’ so that the management of them is treated as a trade for income and capital gains tax purposes. HMRC would be likely to deny IHT relief unless it could be clearly shown that the deceased was providing a significant level of additional services over and above the letting of the property. Similarly a caravan park might need to offer extra services, such as catering or entertainment, to qualify for the IHT relief.

This can be a trying time for beneficiaries. We understand how important it is to predict potential problems and ensure they’re dealt with. We also ensure that all deadlines are met and that relevant duties are properly discharged.

To support our high-quality team of experts, we rely on a case management and accounting package that helps to carry out all the necessary steps quickly and efficiently.

Simply click the ‘Get in touch’ button at the top this page or visit our contact page link below.