Probate SOLICITORS

Fixed Fee Probate Service provided by Lawyers

Our Probate Service

We provide a nationwide Probate service, including a free initial home visit, so no matter where you are in the UK, we will be able to help. We also deal with Estates remotely for those who are abroad, so even if you’re outside of the UK, we can still assist you. For free initial advice, get in touch with us on 0345 222 0022, email us at info@goodwills.net or message us through our contact form.

Goodwills is a regulated law firm that has dealt with hundreds of Estates, ranging from straightforward cash only Estates to large, taxable and multinational Estates. We offer some of the best prices in the industry, whilst you’ll still have the peace of mind of knowing that everything is being undertaken by specialist professionals.

Our fees for obtaining a Grant of Probate start at £500.00 (plus VAT) but we are also able to offer a comprehensive complete Probate full estate administration service.

When is a Grant of Probate required?

A Grant of Probate is generally required in the following circumstances:

  • Where there is a house owned jointly as tenants-in-common on first death;
  • Where there is a house owned outright by the deceased;
  • Where there are sums in a bank account or investment valued at over £10,000; and
  • Where are there life insurance policies that were not held in Trust.

If you think a Grant of Probate may be required, then get in touch with us today and we are happy to give free initial advice on this.

Why use a lawyer to obtain Probate?

It is recommended that you use Probate Solicitors if you are dealing with the Estate of a loved one. As specialist Probate Lawyers, we are insured for the work we undertake and have experience of reducing the various risks involved in Probate. It is a little-known fact that Executors are personally liable for Probate and Estate Administration and, if a mistake is made, they are liable to pay the Estate for the loss out of their own pocket.

During the Probate process, there are many potential pitfalls, such as calculating/paying the wrong amount of tax (for which fines may also be due!), distributing the Estate prior to Trustee Act Notices being placed or distributing the Estate to the wrong beneficiaries (perhaps due to wrongly interpreting the wording of the Will document).

Does Goodwills deal with taxable Estates?

We deal with taxable Estates and can:

  • Deal with all of the tax forms, ensuring that HMRC is informed in a timely manner;
  • Ensure that the correct amount is paid and within the HMRC deadlines; and
  • Reduce the end tax liability through Deeds of Variation, Deeds of Appointment and other legal devices.

Reducing Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax liabilities is one of the main objectives of our clients and something that we specialise in. In some cases, this involves doing a Deed of Variation to alter the shares received, to create a new Trust or in some cases to wind up a Trust within an existing Will.

What are the steps involved when undertaking Probate?

The Executor of a deceased Estate has various duties, including but not limited to:

  • Ascertaining what property and other assets were owned by the deceased at the date of their death.
  • Determining what liabilities were owed by the deceased at the date of death.
  • Arranging the funeral and making payment for this.
  • Establishing Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, Income Tax, Council Tax and any other tax owed as at the date of death. Importantly, this involves ensuring that all of the correct tax returns are completed and submitted to the Inland Revenue in a timely fashion. Failure to do so may result in fines, for which the Executors are personally liable.
  • Completing and submitting the various Probate forms, including the IHT205, IHT400 and associated forms to the Probate Registry.
  • Once the Grant of Probate has been obtained, Trustee Act Notices should be placed in the London Gazette and in a local paper. A waiting period of 6 months is then recommended, in order to mitigate the Executor’s liability. This is one area that lay Executors often get wrong.
  • Where there is a property involved, this will need to be transferred or sold, depending on the circumstances.
  • Collecting in all the assets and paying any outstanding liabilities.
  • Any gifts and legacies left by the deceased will need to be distributed to loved ones. These usually pass tax free but this is an area where Executors need to be cautious, and so it’s best to contact a solicitor or lawyer to verify this.
  • Prior to the final distribution of the residuary Estate, detailed accounts and a Statement of Assets & Liabilities should be passed to be beneficiaries of the Estate.
  • Finally, the residuary Estate should be distributed to the end beneficiaries in accordance with the Will. It’s vitally important that this is done correctly, as otherwise you will be personally responsible for retrieving incorrectly paid amounts. There may be bespoke Trusts to be set up or monies may need to be held on Trust for minors who have not yet reached the age of attainment.

When we carry out our ‘Complete Probate Service’, we will guide you through all of the steps above and carry out all of the legal work on your behalf. If you would like a no cost initial consultation, then just get in touch with us.

What is the cost of obtaining Probate?

Our fees start from as low as £500.00 (plus VAT) to obtain a Grant of Probate. There are disbursements involved and the Court Fees are currently set to rise above the current level of £155.00, as follows:

  • Estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing, meaning estates worth between £5,000 and £50,000 will save £215 compared to the current system.
  • Estates worth from £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250, a rise of £35.
  • Estates worth from £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750, a rise of £535.
  • Estates worth from £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500, a rise of £2,285.
  • Estates worth from £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000, a rise of £3,785.
  • Estates worth from £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000, a rise of £4,785.
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, a rise of £5,785.

How long does it take to obtain Probate?

There are currently delays at the Probate Registry, as of today’s date (15 June 2019), and it is currently taking around two months from the date of application to the Probate Registry to receive the Grant of Probate back.

We offer a fast, streamlined service to ensure that the application from the Grant is made at the earliest possible moment. Without speaking to you about your circumstances, we aren’t able to give more precise estimates as to timescales but please do get in touch.

Does Goodwills deal with Intestacies?

Yes, we are able to obtain Letters of Administration where the deceased has died without having left a Will. We are also able to draft Deeds of Family Settlement and to help structure the end result so that all beneficiaries are happy with the outcome. Intestacies can be difficult to manage and, if you are in the position of having to deal with one, we’d suggest that you get in touch as soon as possible. In particular, it is possible to take steps to protect against future care home fees and potentially to reduce the tax liability of the Estate.

We always recommend Will storage to clients who make Wills with us, as we know that one of the most common reasons that intestacies occur is due to Wills having been lost prior to death.

What if another law firm or bank has been appointed as Professional Executors?

We offer a Professional Executorship service ourselves but we are well known in the industry for providing a high level of service for very competitive fees. This is not always the case and it is well known that some law firms and banks charge extortionate fees. If you contact Goodwills early enough, then it’s usually possible to have a Professional Executors removed.

What if there is a claim against the Estate?

If there is a Probate claim against the Estate of the deceased, then Goodwills are also able to deal with Contentious Probate work. In cases where a claim has not yet been made but it looks likely, or a caveat has already been put in place, then we are also able to help. If a claim looks likely, then it’s best to have Probate Solicitors involved from the outset as things may quickly escalate and you may be held personally liable for any errors/omissions.

If you wish to contest a Will, then that is also something we are able to assist with. In either case, get in touch with our team or take a look at some further information in our Contentious Probate section.

Does Goodwills do Deeds of Variation?

Yes, we are able to deal with Deeds of Variation on behalf of our clients. In some cases, we do these in order to reduce tax liabilities, to avoid future care home fees or to protect minor children. In some cases, it makes sense to create Trusts retrospectively by way of a Deed of Variation and, as a specialist Trust firm, this is an area where we are experts. There are many reasons why a Deed of Variation might be set up but it’s of great importance that you seek proper advice before entering into any type of agreement.

Can Goodwills act as Professional Trustees?

If there is a Trust in the deceased’s Will, or one is being set up by way of a Deed of Variation, then Goodwills are able to act as Professional Trustees. There are various advantages to having Professional Trustees, including knowing that monies will be properly managed, monitored and that all HMRC filings will be done professionally and on time. We act as Professional Trustees for many of our clients and we are also able to carry out Deeds of Appointment and Trustee Minutes/Resolutions, and other such Trust work.

Probate