Losing a loved one is the hardest experience most of us will ever go through. Grieving can be an exhausting process so when you are also responsible for sorting out the deceased person’s estate, it is understandable to feel confused and overwhelmed.
As well as sorting through all the deceased person’s belongings, you will also need to find and close their bank accounts, sell any property, pay off any debts and Inheritance Tax, and distribute inheritance to the beneficiaries. This process is called estate administration or probate.
We have a team of skilled and friendly probate solicitors who can take on as much or as little of this work as you need. Whether you need assistance applying for probate or you need someone to handle the entire process on your behalf, we are happy to help.
We can assist with matters such as:
- Obtaining a Grant of Representation (Grant of Probate if there is a Will or Letters of Administration if there is no Will) for permission to administer the estate
- Collecting assets and settling liabilities
- Dealing with trusts
- Filing the Inheritance Tax return with HMRC and handling other tax matters
- Identifying beneficiaries and distributing inheritance
For a fuller list of what our service includes and pricing information, please visit our probate & estate administration pricing page.
We serve clients across Bournemouth, Poole and the wider Dorset area. Our team includes two fully qualified members of STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), an organisation of experts who specialise in family inheritance matters. We offer a personal, sympathetic service combined with practical advice. We also have particular experience working with older and vulnerable individuals, providing them the advice and support they need in a warm, welcoming environment.
How probate & estate administration works
Applying for probate
In most cases, whoever deals with the deceased person’s estate (the term used to describe their money, property and liabilities) needs to obtain legal authorisation to act. This person (or people) must apply to their local Probate Registry. Only certain people can apply for probate:
- If there is a Will, anyone named as an ‘executor’ may apply – the document they receive is called a Grant of Probate
- If there is no Will, the deceased’s closest relatives may apply to become an ‘administrator’ – the document they receive is called a Grant of Letters of Administration
As part of our service, we can provide advice about your entitlement to apply and handle the application process on your behalf. There may also be narrow circumstances in which probate is not needed, for example, if the estate is very small or only made up of cash. We can also provide advice about this type of scenario.
Where a person dies without leaving a Will, it is called dying intestate. There will therefore be no appointed executors or named beneficiaries. In this case, a law called the Rules of Intestacy will apply. The Rules set out a list of people who are entitled to inherit; usually, the beneficiaries will be the deceased’s spouse or civil partner and/or children. If they did not have a spouse/civil partner or children, other close relatives will inherit. Unmarried partners and step children typically cannot inherit.
The Rules of Intestacy also dictate who can apply to become an administrator. Relatives of the deceased are all placed in priority order from spouse/civil partner with the highest priority and half relatives such as half aunts and uncles with the lowest priority. For example, if the deceased’s spouse and a half uncle both apply for probate, the spouse will get priority. If the applicants have equal priority (such as multiple children), it will go to the first person to make a valid application.
We can provide detailed advice about the probate process where the deceased has died intestate, including making a probate application on your behalf.
Inheritance Tax affects estates worth over £325,000. However, many estates will be entitled to certain tax reliefs and exemptions; for example, a person can pass on their estate to their spouse or civil partner tax free.
We can provide advice on Inheritance Tax, including liaising with HMRC and filing the required tax return on your behalf.
Our probate and estate administration pricing
You can find clear information about our fees and what our service includes on our probate & estate administration pricing pages. We are always transparent about our costs and exactly what you can expect for our quoted price. At the beginning of your matter we will provide a tailored quote and if additional work is required, we will always discuss this with you before incurring the fees.
Why choose our probate solicitors in Bournemouth?
We are committed to providing the highest levels of customer care and with years of experience, our probate lawyers are perfectly placed to provide the right level of advice and support for you. We are friendly, empathetic and always available to lend a hand. You can expect prompt responses to all correspondence and detailed, simple-to-understand answers to any question you may have during the process.
Among our talented team, Geoffrey Billington and Richard Smith are qualified members of STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). This is a vital qualification for legal professionals who specialise in wills, trusts, tax and probate matters. Geoffrey is also a member of the Bournemouth STEP Committee and holds a STEP Advanced Certificate in Advising Vulnerable Clients.
We also have specialist experience providing legal advice and support to older people and vulnerable adults. Paul Smith is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly, an organisation that links individuals to clients who can support their needs.
Preston Redman is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).