Our work as family law experts has taught us how to deal with people going through some of the most stressful things that life could throw at them. These include divorce, adoption and interactions with social services, and our combination of legal expertise and empathetic support means that many people opt to come to us when they’re looking for a probate attorney.
A probate attorney at Higgins Miller will have the expertise needed to deal with the huge range of issues which arise when someone close to you dies and leave you with the responsibility of executing their will. One of the things which people often struggle with when a loved one dies is the fact that dealing with the grief and emotional pain involved has to be combined with a huge range of complex legal and clerical tasks. A probate attorney will have been through the process very many times before, and will guide you through it in a manner which is supportive and ensures that the estate in question is divided amongst those left behind as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Our probate attorney will work closely by your side, explaining the process in a clear and concise manner which manages to avoid the use of complex language or technical legal terminology. At each stage we’ll ensure that you know exactly what is happening, and we’ll work at a pace which you feel completely comfortable with.
A top probate attorney will be well versed in the complexities which can arise when dealing with the estate of a deceased person, particularly in those cases when they have neglected to leave a will. If this is the case, then the person will have died ‘intestate’, which means that the law dictates exactly how any estate should be divided amongst the beneficiaries, and can also impact on any inheritance tax which has to be paid. Even in the presence of a will, however, matters can quickly become more complicated. This is particularly the case if the estate concerned involves business interests and familial complications brought about by second or third marriages.
The first thing a probate attorney will set out is that ‘probate’ describes a specific process. The process in question involves bringing the assets of an estate together, having them valued, by independent experts if need be, and then dividing those assets amongst the beneficiaries along the lines set out in the will. Most wills name the executor chosen to carry out this task, and if an executor hasn’t been named then the closest relative usually handles the matter. The first step will be to gain a Grant of Representation. This is a document which has to be presented to banks and building societies in order to be granted access to any funds left in their accounts. Our probate attorney will then explain which parts of the estate may need to be independently valued, and once the full valuation has been completed, any current debts will be subtracted, leaving a figure which represents the value of the estate to be handed down.
Probably the most complex and contentious aspect to be dealt with by a probate attorney is Inheritance Tax (IHT). At the time of writing, no IHT has to be paid on an estate which has been left to a spouse, civil partner or qualifying charity, or on one which is valued at less than £325,000. Another factor to be taken into account is the fact that any unused allowance belonging to a deceased spouse or civil partner can be transferred, and when all the available allowances are taken into account it’s possible for a person making use of a transferred allowance of this kind to pass on a property worth £1 million without having to pay IHT. A probate attorney will explain all of this, helping to minimise IHT where possible, and helping to deal with paperwork such as the IHT400 form, which has to be completed for any estate incurring IHT, and delivered to HMRC.
On average, probate can take between six and nine months, but our probate attorney will work to reduce this time to the minimum possible, dealing with the complex legal and bureaucratic issues involved, leaving you with more time to cope with your feelings.
If you’d like to speak to us about working with a top probate attorney, or learn more about the probate process in general, please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected] We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward-thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. A 20-minute appraisal can be provided free of charge, and if you want to find out more we’ll provide the first appointment for a fixed fee, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to find out more about our wider charging system then please take a look here.