Do I need a solicitor to apply for a Grant of Probate?

You have discovered you are an Executor but you are not sure what this will involve and whether you will need to apply for a Grant of Probate.  

We can advise you about the numerous obligations you will have, as well as the duties you will owe to various parties. As an Executor, one of the first steps you will need to take is to value the deceased’s estate. This means that you will need to compile a list of the values of the deceased’s assets on the day they died, such as bank accounts, saving accounts, shares and any property. At the same time, you will also need to identify any liabilities, such as mortgages, credit card debts or tax owed up to the date of their death. Once you have this information you can then determine whether any Inheritance Tax needs to be paid and whether you will need to apply for a Grant of Probate.  

A Grant of Probate is a legal document to show that you have the authority to deal with the deceased’s assets. Each bank has a different threshold as to how much money they will transfer to an Executor without a Grant of Probate but if the deceased owned a property in their sole name or jointly, as a “tenant in common”, a Grant of Probate will be needed. 

Once you have the Grant of Probate (if needed) you can then collect in the deceased’s assets, pay any liabilities and estate costs and then look at distributing the estate assets according to the Will.

This might seem like a daunting task and there are often complexities to each individual matter, but we can help. It is important to remember that a solicitor’s costs will be deducted from the estate, so you do not need to pay the legal fees out of your own pocket.  

In particular, we can help you with the following: 

Navigate the estate administration process at a difficult time

Losing a loved one is never easy but for some it can be very difficult to deal with a mountain of paperwork in the midst of grief.  We can take you through the process and remove some of the administrative burden from your shoulders.

Calculate how much (if any) Inheritance Tax is owed 

Executors should ensure all available reliefs and exemptions have been considered when calculating how much Inheritance Tax (IHT) is owed when someone dies.  For example, you might be able to make use of Business Relief, Downsizing allowance or charitable exemptions, to name just a few.  We will ensure you are not paying more IHT than required and will prepare the necessary (and numerous) forms for HMRC.  

Manage difficult family relationships

Every family circumstance is different and at Moore Barlow we believe in taking a human first approach. Our compassionate team of solicitors can act as an intermediary if relationships are strained between co-executors or between the executors and beneficiaries, for example.

Protect yourself against personal liability

Executors can find themselves personally liable if, for example, estate assets have been distributed without paying a debt of the deceased or considering a possible claim against the estate from a disgruntled beneficiary. We can suggest helpful steps to take to protect yourself against personal liability.

Fulfil your duty to maximise the value of the estate  

Executors owe a duty to the beneficiaries of the Will to maximise the value of the estate.  There are certain steps an executor should be aware of to achieve this.  For example, you might be able to apply for a refund of IHT on shares sold at a loss in the first year after the date of death; or if Capital Gains Tax is owed on assets sold by the executors, we can advise you on the annual allowances available to the estate and to the beneficiaries to minimise this tax burden.  

How Moore Barlow can help

People’s affairs are often more complicated than they first appear, and the duties of an executor can be onerous. Instructing a Solicitor from Moore Barlow’s Private Wealth Team will provide peace of mind at a difficult time.

Get in touch with the Private Wealth team if you have any questions, or head over the the Probate Services section of our website to find out how we can help with your roles and responsibilities as the executor of someone’s estate.