Probate and Estate Management

What to do when someone dies – Applying for Probate When someone dies you suddenly find yourself thrust into a world of new and unfamiliar concepts and language. This is quite apart from the emotional trauma that death can cause. The whole process can be entirely daunting or overwhelming. We have experts who understand the process, and can explain it all to you in a way that makes it easy to understand and follow. We can guide you through the maze of forms, administrative processes and tax issues. We pride ourselves in offering a professional yet completely personal service in helping with the administration of a person’s estate during what sadly will often be difficult times.

The actual process for administering an estate is something we do all the time and whilst no two people’s affairs are the same, they do generally follow a standard pattern:

  • Finding out what money, property or other assets the person had
  • Confirming what debts or liabilities the person had
  • Submission of tax forms to the Inland Revenue and arranging the payment of any Inheritance Tax or income tax
  • Applying for the ‘grant of probate’ (This is the legal document which confirms that a person has died and that the executor has the authority to deal with their assets).
  • Collecting in all assets and paying all liabilities
  • Preparing accounts and making final payments to the beneficiaries of the Will The specific process will depend upon whether the person who has died left a valid Will.

If the person who has died leaves a will If a person dies having made a valid Will, then they will have appointed one or more ‘executors’ to deal with their affairs. The executor is the person responsible for carrying out the wishes set out in the Will of the person who has died. Our expert team can advise you every step of the way on the administration of a person’s estate, and in maximising its value by applying all relevant tax allowances. If the person who has died didn’t leave a will – called “intestacy” If there is no will, it will be generally down to a close family member or a beneficiary of the estate to apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’. This document has the same legal effect as a Grant of Probate, authorising the Administrator to deal with the assets of the person who has died. Whilst similar steps need to be taken to those outlined above insofar as collecting in assets and paying liabilities are concerned, the distribution of money to beneficiaries is very different. Instead of there being a Will setting out what is to happen, it is necessary to follow the strict intestacy rules which set out how a person’s assets should be divided. These rules can be complex and confusing, and not necessarily what you may expect, and as such you should always seek professional legal advice where a person has died without a Will. How we can help Responsibility The administration of a person’s estate after they have died is a significant one. By taking on the role, the Executors/Administrators become personally liable and responsible for the administration of the estate, including ensuring that all assets are identified and collected in, that all taxes and liabilities are paid, and then correctly accounting for all payments to beneficiaries.

This is a very onerous burden on an individual, particularly if you have little or no experience of it. We have a dedicated team of expert Solicitors and lawyers who can relieve you of that responsibility, by taking on the administration of all aspects of a person’s estate. Although based in our main offices in Worthing, Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton from where we provide our services, we are quite happy to visit you at home or elsewhere as necessary. We will endeavour to deal with all probate matters as quickly and efficiently as possible, as often closure in terms of your personal grieving cannot be obtained until the deceased’s affairs are settled. The Human Side of being a Probate Lawyer – Grief & Personal Loss Dealing with the loss of a loved one is regarded as one of the most stressful times in a person’s life, without having to worry about the taxman or other legal matters. The process of sorting out a person’s affairs after they have died can be long and complicated. By putting the legal issues into the hands of our expert team, you are then able to focus on dealing with the personal issues the loss of a loved one can bring. We take away one of the major headaches, so you can concentrate on yourself and your family.

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