The process of administering the estate of a person who has died can be complex and confusing

We can deal with the mechanics at every stage including:

  • Applying for a grant of probate or letters of administration
  • Dealing with tax issues
  • Dealing with issues in the will or to do with intestacy
  • Guiding you in the collection in and distribution of the assets
  • Helping you to administer the estate

If you are looking to challenge a will, go to Contested Inheritance

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I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank yourself and your colleagues at Humphreys & Co. for all the work, help and kindness you have shown for J over what have been 3 difficult and traumatic years, and also Mr. C who represented at the mediation last November, for whom J has very high regards. (Staffordshire)

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Probate is a term applied to the official proving of a will and the right to deal with the affairs of the person who has died or to administer the estate.

Obtaining probate: things to think about

  • (1)    Every death must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
  • (2)    If Inheritance Tax is due some or all of it must be paid before a grant of probate letters of administration can be obtained. Or:
  • (3)    If the estate does not contain land, shares or property and is less than £5000 a grant of probate is not needed but may still be useful for other purposes.
  • (4)    If you are the partner of the person who has died but were not married you may not be automatically entitled to receive the assets if there is no will.
  • (5)    Is the will you have the last will of the person who has died or did he or she make a later one or add to it by a codicil?

Who is entitled to administer the estate?

The first question to ask is: “Is there a will?”

If yes:

If the answer is “yes” then the will should nominate executors to deal with the affairs of the person who has died.

It is the executors’ duty apply for a grant of probate from the Probate registry of the court.

This grant of probate gives legal authority to the executors to deal with and enables them to gain access to any funds, deal with finances and share out the assets in the manner indicated by the will.

If no:

If a person dies without making a valid will they are said to die intestate.

If this is the case the law sets out who should administer the assets and who should benefit from them.

A close relative of the person who has died can apply for a grant of letters of administration which gives them the legal power to deal with the assets as an administrator much in the same way as an executor would.

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What happens to the estate if there is no will?

As a general rule if a husband, wife or civil partner survives the person who has died they will be entitled to at least part of the estate of the person who has dies but there may also be part due to any children or other relatives.

We can help you to decide who would be entitled to the estate if there is no will as the rules can be difficult to apply in some cases.

What if the person died outside of England & Wales?

There are different rules that apply if the person dies outside of England and Wales or owns assets abroad and we can guide you through this process.

Contested probate enquiries

We have a strong contested probate team here who will be able to assist you with challenging an unfair will or contesting the distribution of assets on intestacy.

If you are looking to challenge a will, go to our Contested Inheritance page.

Probate & estate administration glossary of terms

To help you with the confusing terminology in this area we have provided a short glossary of terms commonly used in probate.

Intestate

When a person dies without a will they are said to die ‘intestate’.

Assets

Everything owned by the person who has died.

Codicil

An addition to a will by a separate document.

Distribution

The process of handing out the estate to the beneficiaries.

Estate

The property, money and possessions of the person who has died.

Executor

A person appointed by a will to deal with the assets.

Administrator

A person appointed to deal with the assets where there is no will.

Probate registry

The court responsible for making sure a will is valid and the applicant is entitled to handle the estate.

Grant of probate

A grant of probate gives the legal right to administer the assets of the person who has died.

Grant of letters of administration

A grant of letters of administration gives the legal right to administer the assets of the person who has died when there is no will.

IHT (Inheritance Tax)

This is a tax payable on the estate of the person who has died.

Beneficiary

This is a person entitled to the assets of a person who had died.

Life interest

This means that a person is given assets under a will for the duration of their life at which point it goes to somebody else.

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