Call +44(0)161 941 4000
Call +44(0)161 941 4000
Dealing with an Estate carries a high degree of responsibility and can be challenging and time-consuming. Delays dealing with an Estate correctly and quickly can cause unexpected financial, tax and practical difficulties for families. Our specialist and proactive Probate Solicitors will expertly guide you through the maze of steps needed to discharge your duties and administer an Estate quickly and effectively.
We deal with all sizes of Estates both simple and complex in a sensitive, efficient and friendly manner, so you avoid unnecessary stress and delays at a difficult time. Our modern and practical approach using the latest technology will ensure that tax is minimised and the Estate is distributed quickly to benefit your loved ones.
Probate matters vary in complexity and circumstance meaning that we cannot provide an overall cost for dealing with probate. However, as part of our consultation process, one of our team will be happy to discuss potential costing options with you. We are always transparent about our fees and promise to provide cost updates throughout your probate matter.
Myerson customises its service to support you whether you require assistance to administer a Will or where there is no will to advise you on and apply the rules of intestacy.
From obtaining probate to distributing the whole Estate, our team of experts are experienced in dealing with the following:
Our Probate team is supported by specialist Solicitors in areas such as corporate/commercial, property, agriculture and litigation to provide joined-up advice to the family in terms of broader tax and personal and business succession planning.
We have extensive and trusted connections with other expert professionals such as property and asset valuers, tax advisers, accountants, independent financial advisers and banks to assist in providing a complete solution when dealing with an Estate.
The most common questions surrounding Probate can be found with answers in our FAQ guide here.
Case 1 – an estate worth £1.5 million consisting of investments and a property, half of which was in a life interest trust for the surviving spouse who then died. The siblings had fallen out and were unable to work together as Executors and therefore Myerson Trust Corporation was appointed as independent administrators by the court to resolve the issues, reduce the Inheritance Tax payable by claiming all the available allowances. We reviewed whether a Deed of Variation was necessary to further reduce the Inheritance Tax payable by potentially leaving a legacy to charity.
Case 2 – a £20 million estate involving various trusts for the surviving spouse, children from that marriage and pension trusts which are ongoing and being administered by the firm. The estate consists of a property portfolio and a business which our Corporate, Property, Employment and Litigation teams also provide support to.
Case 3 – an estate worth £2.5 million consisting of a farm property and a separate business on which Inheritance Tax was payable. We assisted the Executors with claims for Business Property Relief as well as Agricultural Property Relief and negotiated with HMRC to minimize the Inheritance Tax payable. There was also a significant Capital Gain on the sale of the property and we were able to utilise the individual beneficiaries’ tax allowances to eliminate the Capital Gains Tax liability of the estate.
Case 4 – the Wills and Trusts were drafted by a well-known company which went into administration and one of the directors went to prison for fraud of around £25 million. The director had appointed himself as trustee and executor and the family required help to regain control over the property and assets before unwinding the unnecessary trusts. We became well known for unwinding the setups by this particular company and deal with a number of cases in a similar position. Other legal professionals also sought our opinion on similar matters.
Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.
Bik-ki Wong (formerly Irving)
Bik-ki is a Partner and is Head of our Wills, Trusts and Probate department
Clara is a Partner in our Wills, Trusts and Probate department
Jaima is a Solicitor in our Wills, Trusts and Probate department
Laura is an Associate in our Wills, Trusts and Probate department
A Grant of Probate is an official document allowing the Executors appointed under a Will to administer the Estate. It requires the Executors to submit information about the value of the assets within the Estate at death, pay any Inheritance Tax due and makes the Will a public document.
For Estates without a Will, an entitled person under the Intestacy rules will need to apply for Letters of Administration instead. Both Probate and Letters of Administration are Grants of Representation.
A Deed of Variation is usually a document executed by individuals benefitting from a Will or the rules of intestacy. It can redirect their inheritance to others. If done within two years of the date of death, it can be treated as if the deceased had requested it and therefore a useful tool for mitigating Inheritance Tax.
Probate matters vary in complexity and circumstance, meaning that we cannot provide an overall cost for a probate matter. However, as part of our consultation process, one of our team will be happy to discuss potential costing options with you. We are always transparent about our fees and promise to provide cost updates throughout your probate matter.
Following a death, it is important to ensure that if the deceased had a Will, it is proved otherwise the rules of intestacy apply. It is also important to ensure that the most up to date Will is proved. Sometimes locating the last Will can be difficult as registration of Wills in England and Wales is not compulsory, however, it is possible to conduct a search for a Will with the Law Society’s preferred Will Register, Certainty. For a small fee, they will search the register itself and for an additional fee, they can extend the search to solicitors and Will Writers nationally and provide a quote for insurance in the event that the estate is distributed incorrectly as personal representatives have personal liability.
If the deceased had a Will, the Executors apply for a Grant of Probate. If there are several people named as Executors, some or all of them can apply. If the deceased died intestate, only the persons who are entitled under intestacy can apply for Letters of Administration.
The administration of the estate consists of many elements and much of it depends on what assets need to be dealt with and the time it takes for third parties to respond. The initial steps to obtain the details of assets and liabilities as at the date of death usually takes several weeks. The next step is to prepare the application for probate which involves completing an Inheritance Tax (IHT) form setting out the value of the estate. If IHT is payable, a longer form is required and IHT will need to paid (or the first instalment) before HMRC will issue a receipt for you to progress matters with the Probate Registry. Again this stage will take several weeks.
Once the Probate Registry has issued the grant, the Executors or Administrators can then collect the assets and discharge an outstanding liabilities including any tax to the date of death and during the estate administration before distributing the estate. This stage can take a couple of weeks if the affairs of the deceased were straight forward and consisted of straight forward assets such as bank accounts. If the estate consists of property or a business, it can take much longer to find a buyer. Typically an estate administration can vary from around 6 months to a year but longer if the estate is more complicated or there are disputes.
Assets passing to certain categories of people are exempt from IHT (most commonly a spouse or charities). Certain exemptions are also available for various assets including businesses and farms if the necessary requirements are met. Each individual then has a tax free band known as the Nil Rate Band (NRB) which is currently £325,000. The NRB is transferable between spouses. In addition, there is also the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) which was introduced in April 2017 which is currently £175,000 and is also transferable between spouses bring the total exemptions for a married couple with children up to £1 million before their excess estate is taxed at 40%.
There are many grounds on which a Will can be contested. If the Will is contested on the grounds of validity, those issues must be resolved before the Will if proved at the Probate Registry. If a Will is contested on the basis that reasonable provision has not been made for them under the Inheritance Provision (for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the person challenging the Will has 6 months from the date of the grant to make a claim. It is advisable for the Executors to wait 9 months and 1 day before distributing the estate as an application can be made within 6 months but the individual has a further 3 months to serve the claim. Any distribution prior to that time means the Executors of the estate are at personal risk.
Most financial institutions initially require a death certificate to register the death. In order to close the account/investment, the financial institutions will require either a grant and a signed form of authority by the personal representatives or a sign declaration and indemnity if a grant is not required. The funds should then be paid into a separate Executors’ Account and estate accounts should be prepared to account to the beneficiaries of the estate. Personal Representatives should verify the identity of the beneficiaries or the class of beneficiaries and checks should be made the beneficiaries are not bankrupt.
If there is a mistake in the Will and the person who made it is still alive and has the mental capacity to make another Will, the simplest solution is to make a new Will. If the person who has made the Will has died and it is clear that the Will fails to carry out his or her intentions, an application can be made to the court under S.20 Administration of Justice Act 1982. The court has to be satisfied that the Will fails to carry out the deceased’s intentions either because of a clerical error or the draftsman failing to understand their instructions. There is a strict time limit of 6 months from the date of the grant to apply to rectify a Will and only in exceptional will a court allow an extension.
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