What We Do

Probate and Estate Administration

Our Probate now has a guaranteed fixed fee with no hidden extras. When a person dies, someone has to deal with collecting their assets and paying their debts. This is called ‘administering the estate.’ Below is a list of Questions we are frequently asked. Feel free to contact us with any additional questions (and we'll add them to the list for others to share). Telephone 01454 312125 or email wills@cluttoncox.co.uk

First steps: What to Do when someone dies

When someone dies, you will need to inform a number of people and organisations and complete certain documents needed by law. If you are a relative or friend you can do some of these things yourself. Others will need to be done by the executor or administrator of the estate. There is plenty of support available to help you through this difficult time.

  • Tell the family doctor
  • Contact a funeral director, if you intend to use one
  • Begin arrangements for the funeral – you should check the Will for any special requests
  • Obtain a medical certificate of cause of death signed by a doctor, or if the Coroner is involved, take instructions from Coroner’s Officers regarding registration of the death
  • Register the death at the Register Office

As early as possible :

  • Contact your Solicitor and/or Executor as soon as you can to confirm that they hold the original Will.
  • In the Will, there may be specific directions for burial arrangements.
  • This will also enable your Solicitor to start the process of obtaining Probate if necessary
  • If there is no Will, decide who will apply to sort out the deceased’s affairs and contact your Solicitor to help you apply for ‘Letters of Administration’ if necessary

How to Register a death

A death must be registered within five days from when it occurred. This period can be extended in exceptional circumstances and if the Coroner is involved. The registration must take place in the district where the death occurred.

If it is difficult for you to get to the appropriate registration office, you may visit your local office and declare the necessary information, which will then be sent to the office for the district in which the death occurred to enable the death to be registered in that district. They will then send you the appropriate documents; consequently registration by declaration may result in a delay in the issue of the document needed for the funeral arrangements.

You can only register a death once you have the medical cause of death certificate from the doctor, or in the case of a death reported to the Coroner, confirmation from the Coroner’s office that the relevant paperwork has been issued to the Register Office.

The death can be registered by the following people, in order of priority :

  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • The occupier of the nursing/residential home/official from the hospital where the death took place
  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral directors
  • The person who found the body
  • The person in charge of the body.

There are many organisations which might be able to help you in such a stressful time. Here is a list to help you find the most appropriate for you.

  • The National Association of Bereavement Services: www.stjohnshospice.org.uk
  • This organisation has a directory of services, and can direct people to their nearest source of support. Tel: 020 7709 9090
  • The Compassionate Friends www.tcf.org.uk
  • For help and support to parents whose son or daughter has died. Tel: 0845 123 2304
  • The Samaritans www.samaritans.org If you just need someone to talk to who will give you support. There over 180 branches that are open 24 hours a day. Tel. 08457 909090
  • SSAFA Forces Help www.ssafa.org.uk This is a national charity helping serving and ex service men, women and their families in the hour of need. Tel: 0845 1300 975
  • The National Association of Widows www.nawidows.org.uk They offer a friendly helping hand to all widows and their families.

Remember, in all the circumstances, the immediate practicalities will be the more important than the process of applying for Probate or Letters of Administration

I know there is a Will; what does that mean?

If the person who has died leaves a Will, it will usually name one or more people to act as the executors of the Will – that is to administer their estate.

If you are named as an executor of a Will you may need to apply for a Grant of Probate. A Grant of Probate is an official document which the executors may need to administer the estate. It is issued by a section of the court known as the probate registry.

Who or what are Personal Representatives?

Personal Representatives (PR’s)

This means executors or administrators. If there is more than one Personal Representative, they must work together to decide matters between them. Disagreements between Personal Representatives can cause delays.

What type of Grants are available?

Grants of representation

This includes Grants of Probate (when there is a Will) and Grants of Letters of Administration, (when there is no Will). Often people just refer to probate even where there is no will.

When would I need a Grant of Representation?

A Grant of Representation is not always needed, for example if the person who died:

  • Has left less than £5000 in total; or
  • owned everything jointly with someone else

In other cases, some financial organisations, such as banks, may agree to pay funds to a personal representative without grant of representation – it is always worth asking. Usually, a Grant of Representation will be needed when the person who has died left:

  • more than £5000;
  • stocks or shares;
  • a house or land;
  • certain insurance policies
How Can We Help?

You can apply for a grant in person at The Principal Registry (Family Division) at the London Probate Registry or a District Probate Registry in cities and many large towns.

  • If you apply in person, you will have to go for an interview at the registry and fill in an application form and a tax form. There is a fee for this.
  • You can ask a solicitor to apply for the grant of representation on your behalf.

At Clutton Cox, here in Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire, we have a dedicated department that specialises in Probate. Our friendly team has expert knowledge in this field, so that we can swiftly and sensitively see you through the estate administration. We would be more than happy to assist you with any probate matter. Please feel free to call our office for further details.

What are my responsibilities as a Personal Representative?

Personal Representatives are responsible for making sure that the estate is administered correctly. If there is a Will, the Personal Representative must make sure that the wishes of the person, who has died, as set out in their will, are followed. If there is no will, you must follow the rules of intestacy (set out in the administration of Estates Act 1925). Personal representatives are also responsible for finding out if inheritance tax is due as a result of a person’s death. If it is, the personal representative has to ensure that it is paid to the Inland Revenue (Capital Taxes Office)

How is Inheritance Tax calculated?

This will depend on a number of factors, such as how much the property and belongings of the dead person were worth when they died; the value of any gifts that they gave before they died, and to whom they gave those gifts; the value of certain trusts from which the dead person benefited; or which people benefit under the will or under the rules of intestacy (the beneficiaries).

How long will it take?

Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can take a long time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year, perhaps longer if things are not straightforward. Many organisations may be involved in the process, for example banks, building societies, insurance companies and the Inland Revenue.

The estate cannot be dealt with until all claims on it have been received. Individuals have six months form the date when probate was granted to make claims against the estate.

Other things that may affect the time taken are:

  • Were the financial affairs of the person who died were in order;
  • Did the person who died have an interest in a business or farm;
  • What the Will or the Rules of Intestacy say;
  • Are there any legal disputes (claims against the estate or claims by the estate);
  • Does inheritance tax needs to be paid;
  • Have all Inland Revenue files been closed and income tax, benefits agencies and pensions been sorted out.
  • Arguments between family members, beneficiaries or personal representatives can also delay matters. Any disagreements must be resolved before the affairs of the person who has died can be settled.
What will it all cost?

When we know your circumstances, we can tell you what the costs are likely to be before carrying out any work. All our work on your behalf is covered by our fixed fee guarantee with no hidden extras for your peace of mind. We have for your convenience also introduced a special Probate service called Probate Wizard.

You help us and we will help you control the cost of getting Probate and Administering the Estate.