Here at Higgins Miller, we like to think we’re the best probate solicitors Manchester has to offer, and there are several reasons for that. The first of these is purely and simply the expertise our team provides. As specialists in family law, we have vast experience of a range of issues, from prenuptial agreement to children disputes and domestic violence. That means we’re completely up to date with any changes in the relevant law and will have dealt with any possible questions and problems many times over.
The other aspect of our approach which makes us the best probate solicitors Manchester provides is that we treat every client as an individual human being. We never lose sight of the fact that dealing with complex legal matters can be extremely daunting for the average person, and that the emotion involved in the aftermath of a loved one’s death is only going to make a process like a probate even more difficult. That’s why we always deal with our clients in an empathetic and caring manner and make sure they understand exactly what’s happening through each step of the process.
This is particularly important when dealing with a complicated process like probate, which has several stages and may take some time to complete. Working with our probate solicitors Manchester will ensure that each of these stages is completed in the correct manner. The initial stages of probate involve accessing any assets the deceased may have left behind, such as money in the bank or building society accounts. This is normally done by an executor named in any will that was left, but if there is no will then in most cases the closest living relative will be appointed the executor. The first step is gaining a legal document called a Grant of Representation, which all financial institutions will need to see unless the estate passes straight on to a spouse, is valued at less than £5,000, and doesn’t include shares, land or property.
Once all the assets have been identified the estate can be valued. This means bringing together everything such as property, life insurance and pension policies, investments and personal belongings. All items will have to be valued at the time of death, which, in some cases, will require expert input. Alongside the assets of the deceased, any debts will have to be calculated. These might include loans, mortgages, personal debts and also the cost of the funeral. Subtracting the debts from the assets will produce the value of the estate, and it is this figure which determines if Inheritance Tax (IHT) is payable. Estates which are exempt from IHT include those which have been left directly to a spouse, civil partner or qualifying charity and those which are worth less than the current threshold of £325,000. Since it is also possible to transfer 100% of any unused IHT allowance from a late spouse or civil partner, the effective threshold can sometimes be as high as £650,000.
Whether IHT has to be paid or not, the Executor will have to fill in a Return of Information form for HMRC. If IHT is owed then the executor will also have to fill in an IHT400 form, which details the assets and debts of the estate. The forms need to be sent to the Probate Registry and HMRC, and any IHT that is owed needs to be paid. Following this, the executor needs to attend a Probate venue in person and swear an oath. Not until all this has been done will a grant of representation be issued, allowing the executor access assets, pay debts and enact the instructions contained in any will.
It needs to be remembered that this lengthy and fairly complex process needs to be completed whenever a Grant of Representation is needed, or the deceased simply left some property. Dealing with officialdom and bureaucracy of this kind is bound to be even more difficult than usual at such an emotional time, and so the services of the experts at Higgins Miller could make all the difference when it comes to making sure everything is dealt with as quickly as possible, any exemption from IHT is accessed and, perhaps most importantly, the last wishes of the deceased are carried out.
If you’re dealing with the technicalities which ensue when a loved one dies or would like general advice from the best probate solicitors Manchester offers, then please contact us calling 0161 429 7251, or emailing at [email protected]. An initial 20-minute appraisal will be provided free of charge, and our fixed fee first appointment system means clients can access appropriate advice without worrying about spiralling charges. For a detailed account of our wider funding options, see here.