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How to manage someone's affairs when they die

View profile for Heather Nuttall
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Managing someone’s affairs when they die is something many of us face at some point in our lives.

The process of administering a deceased person’s estate - known as probate - involves organising their money, possessions and other assets and distributing them as inheritance (after paying any taxes and/or debts). Probate ends once all taxes and debts have been paid and all inheritance has been passed on.

If the deceased made a Will, this will name someone they had chosen to administer their estate - the executor of the Will.

What Is A Grant of Probate?

Before anything else, the executor must apply for a Grant of Probate. This is a legal document which gives them authority to deal with the deceased’s estate.

If I’ve been named as an executor of a Will, do I have to administer the estate?

If you have been named executor but don’t want to administer the estate yourself, Wilkinson Woodward’s Probate team can apply for probate on your behalf.

What if there is no Will?

If someone dies without a Will, they are said to be intestate. Although you cannot get a Grant of Probate without a Will, you can still administer the estate through a different process.

The rules of intestacy specify who can apply to administer an estate with a Grant of Administration. Without a Will to specify how to pass on assets, the administrator must distribute inheritance according to the rules of intestacy; only spouses, civil partners, children and other close relatives can inherit under rules of intestacy.

Can probate be handled on a fixed fee basis?

The work required to administer an estate can vary enormously and we therefore will look at each case on an individual basis and provide a quotation based on the amount of work required.

Unlike many solicitors, we are happy to handle certain cases on fixed fee basis. We handle grant-only matters from £500 + VAT.

Do I have to instruct the solicitor where the Will is stored?

It’s a common misconception that if a will is stored with a solicitor, then that solicitor must deal with the administration of the estate.  This is not always the case, even if the Will appoints that firm or a representative of that firm as executors.

It is therefore important that before instructing solicitors - or accepting nominated solicitors as executors - that you check how much you will be charged.

Some solicitors charge both an hourly rate plus a percentage, others just an hourly rate or a percentage, and some offer a fixed fee.

We pride ourselves on pricing matters in a transparent and fair way. We charge only for the work carried out, often on a fixed fee basis. We do not add a percentage (which can unnecessarily increase the costs, especially where the estate is substantial).

For more information, please contact our wills and probate specialists in Halifax, Huddersfield or Brighouse.