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  • Overview

    Our expert probate lawyers in Kent have a vast depth and breadth of experience and combine sensitivity with a practical approach to deal with even the most complicated of issues. As one of the largest teams of probate lawyers in the South East, we have a wide ranging skill set and as a full-service law firm we can draw on our years of expertise to help administer even the most complex estates to provide our clients with peace of mind.  

    If problems arise, we work closely with our highly regarded Contentious Probate team to help resolve issues as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Our team of probate lawyers in Kent have provided expert advice and delivered peace of mind to generations of executors, helping them to understand and navigate the estate administration process. 

    We also have a great deal of experience in working on international estates and the complexities involved here and have a trusted network of overseas lawyers we work with regularly.

    Our particular areas of specialism and expertise include:

    • Advising executors of their responsibilities
    • Estates with business assets
    • Agricultural relief and life-time planning
    • Multi-jurisdictional estates
    • Cross border for UK and non-domiciled estates and reseals
    • Landed estates
    • Heritage assets and reliefs, conditional exemption and offers in lieu of tax
    • Unusual asset types and holding structures
    • Post-death variations
    • Intestacy: what to do when someone dies without making a will (intestate)
    • Inheritance Act claims: expert advice and assistance when a claim is threatened or proceedings are issued
    • Independent administration
    • Contentious probate

    Types of estate administration

    We understand what it means to lose someone and that each estate is unique. This is why we offer a bespoke service, delivering support tailored to your individual needs at this difficult time.

    • Full estate administration: We will deal with each aspect of the probate process, so you are not burdened with the responsibility
    • Executor support service: You choose which parts of the process you want to carry out yourself and which parts you would like to hand over to our probate services.
    • Grant-only service: We apply for the Grant of Representation on your behalf, enabling you to do the rest of the work yourself.  For more information, please see our infographic on the three main types of Grant.
    • Independent administration: A service for estates where those involved in administering an estate feel that they can go no further with the process and require an independent administrator to be appointed to resolve the issue.

    When is probate required?

    In England and Wales, probate is usually required when the deceased owned property, or if a bank or financial institution asks for a Grant of Probate in order to release funds. 

    There is no specific financial threshold as each bank or financial institution has its own rules on how much money they can release before needing a Grant of Probate. This can typically be from between £5,000 to £50,000.  

    How much does probate cost?

    Fees vary according to the level of service you need. We do not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach and will always aim to deliver a service tailored to your specific needs. We will always give you clear guidance on the fees at each step of the process so that you are clear about what it will cost. To help control fees, we ensure that the right person handles your matter and we always discuss this at the outset.

    For a clear breakdown of costs, read our Probate costs and time frames to see how fees are managed along with the timelines expected with each service.

    Frequently asked questions

    What is the role of an executor or personal representative?

    The role of the executor or personal representative (PR) is to distribute the deceased person’s estate according to their wishes as stated in their will or, if there is no will, in accordance with the intestacy rules. The role can be a difficult responsibility and leave you open to personal liability, but our expert probate lawyers can help you manage the risks involved.

    Who will work on my estate?

    All work is supervised by the Head of Department or a senior fully qualified member of the probate  team who also has supervisory authority. We can advise you as to who will be working on and supervising your matter as soon as possible. See the bottom of this page for details about our team.

    If you have another question that wasn’t answered here, read more of our Probate FAQs.

    More about our probate lawyers

    We are a team of 11 specialist probate lawyers based in Kent, one of the largest and most experienced in the South East. This guarantees your matter will be dealt with effectively, efficiently and there will always be a member of the team available to help. 

    We can draw from the expertise from our specialist departments including Tax Planning, Trusts, Residential Conveyancing, Agricultural and Owner Managed Business. 

    Our accreditations include:

    • Most of our team who supervise and manage the preparation of wills are members of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). It has published a Code for Will Preparation in England and Wales and as a firm, we adhere to this code in relation to work we do in connection with wills in this jurisdiction.  We are independent and are not part of any other company or group.  You can view the code on their website: or we can send you a copy on request.
    • Band 1 in Chambers HNW and The Legal 500.
    • Listed as one of the top law firms by ePrivateClient.
    • Kent Business Legal Sector Review 2021 – scored us as number 1 for private client quoting “ TSP leads the pack for Private Client once again”.
    • Lexcel - The practice is accredited by Lexcel for our excellence in legal practice management.
    • All of our partners are also listed as Citywealth leaders.

    For more information on our probate services and the steps involved in the legal process, please watch our probate video.

    Click on the box above to view our probate video. 

    Get in touch

    For more details or to discuss your requirements, contact our team today by email or call 01892 510000.



  • Related Client Stories

    Instructed by the claimant

    Instructed by the claimant, being one of two sisters in respect of their late father’s estate who had realised that her sister, the defendant, had plundered their father’s modest estate.

    Independent administration

    After the death of their parents, four siblings found themselves unable to agree on how to progress their parents’ estate. 

    Second marriages and blended families - securing the deceased’s wishes

    A well drafted will helps to ensure your wishes are respected after death and minimise conflict at a difficult time.

    Advising on disputed, multi-jurisdictional probate

    Helping families navigate complex estates and disputes by disappointed beneficiaries.

    A potential IHT saving of £270,000

    The importance of obtaining specialist advice when dealing with shares held in trust

    Mark advised the trustees of a discretionary trust on various issues relating to a legacy of shares in a family trading company.  The deceased’s Will left shares worth around £15 million to the trust.

    Saving £2.5 million inheritance tax on business interests

    Esther acts for the executors of the deceased who owned and ran two businesses as a sole trader, two businesses in partnership and had shareholdings in four limited companies. The deceased’s estate is valued at approximately £7 million.  

    Saving inheritance tax and maximising reliefs

    Assets in the first to die’s estate, comprised of property and land held within a farming partnership.  There were some inconsistencies between the partnership agreement, the property ownership and the will. There were also two children and it was important to balance the needs of the farming and the non-farming child. 

    Obtaining Inheritance Tax Reliefs in a hybrid farming business

    The client (P) died owning a farm on which a mixture of business activities were being carried out.

    Claiming Agricultural and Business Reliefs saves huge Inheritance Tax bill

    The client (K) died owning a 75% share of some farmland extending to around 230 acres which was used for agricultural purposes.

    Inheritance Tax for non-UK domiciled deceased

    We have recently advised on an estate of a non-UK domiciled client where the deceased was domiciled in Poland and left assets in both Poland and England. 

    Proving a foreign Will

    Frequently a foreign Will is prepared with the intention of covering worldwide assets and foreign wills can be recognised in England.  The facts are case specific and this can quickly become a complicated area of law on which you should seek legal advice.    

    A complex intestacy

    Dying without a valid will can cause confusion and more upset to loved ones who are left to administer your estate.

    Family appoints independent administrator to settle estate

    After the death of their parents, four siblings found themselves unable to agree on how to progress their parents’ estate. 

    Family Saves over £100,000 in Inheritance Tax through National Heritage Scheme

    Following the death of their father, a family faced a large inheritance tax bill and the prospect of having to sell the family home to settle it.  They also did not know what to do with their parents’ personal belongings, such as their artwork, furniture and jewellery.

    What to do if there is no will or no known relatives

    We often advise how an estate will be administrated where the deceased has not left a will and there are no known relatives.  Here we explain how we supported a family in a similar scenario.

    Warring siblings

    One child of three children was appointed by their late father under their will to act as executor and obtained a grant of representation to deal with the estate.

    Dealing with a lost or missing will

    In order to obtain a grant of probate, the deceased’s original will must be lodged at the Probate Registry alongside the probate application. There are occasions when the original will is not available which adds an additional layer of complexity.

    Property and tax issues if you die without a will

    Mr X died in 2016.  At his death, he and his wife owned a number of properties (both residential and commercial), some of which were in his sole name and others of which were in joint names.  Mr and Mrs X had an son and one of the properties was co-owned by Mr X and the son.  Mr X also owned a number of other bank accounts and investments as well.  The total value of his estate was around £4 million.

    Inheritance Tax and the pension transfer window

    When a member has passed away, trustees and pension scheme administrators can usually exercise discretion over the distribution of death benefits due from a pension scheme.  More often than not when a trustee has exercised this discretion, the benefits fall outside of the estate for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes. 

    Multiple Death Intestacy

    An entire family, including children died in a tragic accident.  None of the family had a Will and we were asked to obtain Grants of Letters of Administration.

    Probate sale of complex farming estate and farming business

    TSP’s multi-disciplinary team were able to provide a seamless, expert and sensitive service to a farming family with a farming company and a mixture of residential and agricultural property.

    Business Relief – surplus cash in business

    This case study illustrates that it is possible to rebut an argument from HMRC that large cash reserves held in a business should not benefit from Business Relief (BR).

    Polish domicile with UK assets

    We acted for the widower of a young Polish woman who had been working in England for the last few years of her life. It was thought that she had retained her domicile of origin in Poland and the couple had very much left open the possibility of returning to Poland in the future.

    Inheritance tax avoidance

    This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Wills, Trusts & Tax Planning team who have recently advised a client on deeds of variation, inheritance tax and discretionary trusts.

    Farming estates & inheritance tax

    This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Wills, Trusts & Tax Planning team who have recently settled a farming case, saving a potential IHT liability of over £500,000.

  • Latest Updates

    Looking ahead to 2022 for probate: HMRC amends Inheritance Tax (IHT) Regulations for excepted estates

    As the end of 2021 looms, it is natural for thoughts to turn to what the year ahead might hold. When it comes to probate, the key issue to highlight is changes coming in to Inheritance Tax (IHT) Regulations for excepted estates.

    Loose talk leads to litigation: Higgins v. Morgan and others [2021] and the benefits of leaving a will.

    Romi Patel in our Private Client team examines the recent ruling in a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, where the deceased had died intestate.

    Who pays the costs if an estate dispute is dropped mid-trial?

    In September the England and Wales High Court in the matter reported as Goodwin v Avison & Others clarified the rules around costs that apply when a will challenge claim is abandoned midway through a trial.

    Thomson Snell & Passmore once again recognised in Chambers High Net Worth Guide

    We’re delighted to once again be recognised in the prestigious Chambers High Net Worth Guide, and particularly pleased that Monika Byrska, Partner in our Contentious Trusts and Probate team has been ranked for the first time.

    Thomson Snell & Passmore further strengthens Trust Management team with appointment of new Partner

    Alan Kitcher joins as Partner – Certified Chartered Accountant from Charles Russell Speechlys

    What are the rules when it comes to inheritance, family trusts and children born out of wedlock?

    Improving probate waiting times and the potential for a streamlined probate process

    Dealing with probate and estate administration matters can be a difficult task in normal circumstances, but during the COVID-19 pandemic it has been especially challenging for many.

    What is a Grant of Representation?

    This is an order issued by one of the Probate Registries of the High Court, which confirms or confers the authority of the personal representatives also known as executors or the administrators to administer the estate of the deceased.

    Grand Designs to gift land or property? Here is what you need to consider

    Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme recently featured an inspirational couple who, despite both suffering from serious health issues, self-built their ‘dream home’ by renovating an old barn.

    Thomson Snell & Passmore announces 11 promotions including three new Partners

    Leading South East law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore announces 11 promotions from across its core practice areas.

    When do you need probate?

    There is often confusion about when probate is needed. Some personal representatives presume that an estate is too straightforward to require probate, whereas others believe probate is always required. So what are the rules? Paul Hill from our probate team explains all in this article.

    Thomson Snell & Passmore welcomes move to make online applications mandatory for probate practitioners

    Leading South East law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore has welcomed the Non-Contentious Probate (Amendment) Rules 2020 (NCPAR 2020), laid before Parliament.

    Dealing with probate during the Coronavirus pandemic

    Sarah Crane share key tips to help the probate process run as efficiently as possible during the ongoing pandemic.

    Could the estates of NHS workers (and other “emergency responders”) who die from coronavirus be exempt from inheritance tax?

    Answering key questions about the probate process during the coronavirus pandemic

    The probate process can be difficult and emotional at the best of times. With the country on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, many are increasingly concerned about how to proceed with the matters arising following a death.  

    The Digital Age? Electronic signatures and valid execution of documents

    The introduction of social distancing measures following the outbreak of Covid-19 has seen the majority of the UK workforce shift to working from home.

    The Probate process during lockdown: Your questions answered

    Here for you – during COVID-19

    COVID-19: Changes to who, where and how deaths can be registered

    Thomson Snell & Passmore further strengthens Probate offering with two new hires

    Leading South East law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore has welcomed two new members to its Probate department, bolstering its offering and making it one of the largest Probate practices in the South East. 

    Probate goes digital

    The HM Courts & Tribunals Service recently launched an online probate service for legal professionals representing executors. Thomson Snell & Passmore’s probate team has been an early adopter of this new offering.  

    What happens if you die without a will?

    According to a recent survey, 68% of UK adults do not have a will. When someone dies without a will they are considered as passing away intestate.  Contrary to what many believe, in these circumstances an estate cannot just be divided how the family wishes or how the family feels the deceased would have wanted – instead the intestacy rules apply.

    Why probate is only the first step in managing someone’s estate

    When someone dies it can be a difficult time for family or friends who are left to deal with the deceased’s estate. At Thomson Snell & Passmore we aim to help the bereaved due to our joined up and client centric approach.

    Probate Delays – are we nearing the end?

    Thomson Snell & Passmore welcomes HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s update that the backlog of grant applications is beginning to fall and they expect to resume normal service ‘very shortly’.

    Increase in Probate Fees amounting to a “tax on grief” no longer being pursued by Government

    Justice secretary, Robert Buckland QC has said the proposed increase in probate fees will no longer be pursued.

    A costly reminder: The importance of ADR

    An almost century-old law has been used in an interesting inheritance case, in which the court had to decide which spouse of an elderly couple died first.

    Change to probate fees - what next?

    The motion to approve the Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order had been due to be voted on in the House of Commons for some time.

    Probate: frequently asked questions

    Dealing with probate can be extremely stressful, particularly if the estate of the deceased is not straightforward. Our specialist lawyers are experienced in all aspects of probate matters and can support you as much, or as little, as you like.

    Tough new probate fees give families a headache

    Dubbed a “stealth tax” by critics, probate costs will increase under controversial plans to introduce a new sliding scale of fees.

    Thomson Snell & Passmore is recognised as one of the UK’s Top Law Firms

    Thomson Snell & Passmore has been named as one of the Top Law Firms for its private wealth practice for the fifth consecutive year.

    Is the proposed probate fee increase a done deal?

    Probate fees are set to go up from April, with charges ranging from £250, for estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000, and up to £6,000 for estates valued at £2 million or over.

    Welcome to Helen Maddison-White

    A warm welcome to Helen who has recently joined us from Coole Bevis. Helen is an associate in our expanding, specialist probate team

    Probate fee hike: Potential implications on individuals and families

    Despite an overwhelming objection to proposals for a fee increase through a consultation paper in 2017, the Government pushed ahead with its progressive fee scale proposals

    Probate fees set to rise in Government’s controversial plans

    The Government has recently announced that probate court fees are set to rise to fund the Courts and Tribunals Services for the purpose of ensuring justice is done and to protect victims and vulnerable people.  

    Protecting your digital assets

    There is an increasing amount of debate around what you should do to protect your online assets. Failure to recognise digital assets in estate planning can lead to loss of value for intended beneficiaries and may create unnecessary difficulties for your family or executors.  

    £6,000 probate fee is ‘stealth death tax’ But the new charge can be beaten with careful planning

    The Government is pushing ahead with controversial plans to dramatically raise the fees paid by families when they wind up the estate of a loved one.

    I have been told I am named as an executor in a will - what do I need to do now?

    The role of an executor does not come into play until the person who made the will, known as the testator, passes away.

    The Residence Nil Rate Band

    The Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) has now been in force for a year and applies to estates where the deceased died on or after 6 April 2017. Where the deceased owned or, in some cases, had an interest in, a residence the RNRB makes available an additional tax free amount if the residence is inherited by someone closely related to the deceased.

    Making use of the Residence Nil Rate Band

    The Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) has been recently introduced and is only able to be claimed on estates where the deceased has died on or after 6 April 2017. The RNRB increases the amount which can pass free of Inheritance Tax on the death.

    Independent administrator service

    Independent administration is a service solicitors and families can use when there are recalcitrant executors, intractable differences of opinion or contested wills combined with a need to protect an element or the whole of a deceased’s estate.

    Law Commission’s consultation on the law of wills

    Thomson Snell & Passmore has responded to the Law Commission’s consultation on the law of wills.

    Industry call for clarity on digital legacies

    New powers over what happens to digital legacies upon death have been called for by solicitors and legal academics

    Election kills probate 'stealth tax'

    Nicola Plant, Partner and Head of Private Client speaks to The Law Society Gazette about the government's decision to scrap probate fee increases.

    Financial penalties against personal representatives

    Personal representatives are expected to make full enquiries regarding lifetime gifts made by the deceased, as well as the assets in the estate.  Failure to do this could result in a penalty being imposed by HM Revenue & Customs.  Helen Stewart, Partner and Head of Probate, considers a recent case and provides some tips for avoiding penalties.

    The legal week in 60 seconds

    The Solicitors Journal reports on Thomson Snell & Passmore's recent significant promotions within the firm.

    Top 25 UK Law Firm

    We are pleased to receive, for another year, the accolade from eprivateclient of being listed as one of the Top 25 Law Firms in the UK.

    Spotlight on probate

    Probate is a subject that is increasingly grabbing the headlines not least because disputes are increasing, particularly in relation to who inherits and how much they inherit from a testator’s estate.

    Are you aware of your digital assets?

    For most of us, and increasingly irrespective of age, the digital world has crept into our lives. Whether we manage our bank accounts or investments online, store our photographs in the cloud or manage our social lives through Facebook, our digital footprints are becoming deeper and deeper.

  • Insights

Newsletter sign up

I would like to receive newsletters, event invitations and publications from Thomson Snell & Passmore by email on the following topics (tick all those that apply) and consent for my data to be processed for this purpose.

We respect your privacy and want news to be relevant. To either, click here or update your preferences by emailing us at Your personal data shall be treated in accordance with our & .

Get In Touch

By submitting an enquiry through 'get in touch' your data will only be used to contact you regarding your enquiry. If you would like to receive newsletters from Thomson Snell & Passmore please use the separate form below.

I was satisfied with the efficiency and warmth of the service Kirsty provided.


Sue, thank you for the hard work you have put into concluding mum's estate.  Thomson Snell & Passmore had been my parent's solicitors for decard. You served them well!


Sue, we as a family sincerely appreciate your strong efforts, together with all of your Team, to assist us through this very trying process and must say a big Thank you.  Personally I am exhausted yet realise that I could not have achieved a final result without your professional and caring support.


Efficient, effective, friendly and helpful.


Sue Lambert assisted me greatly and kept me informed through the entire process.


Sarah responded quickly and offered me sensible solution, and covered all the loop holes.


Everyone has been extremely supportive throughout all the stages.


As well as being highly efficient, great sensitivity has been evident during very emotional times.


Thank you very much for your skill, professionalism and support to me at such a difficult time.


Thomson Snell & Passmore are known as a very solid, reliable Private Client practice in the South East. Having multiple offices means they can cover a substantial client base geographically. They are also a very modern firm by comparison with some of their direct peers, investing in technology and innovation to stay ahead of the curve.

Legal 500 2021

We are so happy with the informative and efficient help we have received from Sarah.  We were apprehensive about how long and difficult the probate/trust issues may take however Sarah's methodical guidance and patience especially during the pandemic has made a very difficult time for our family so much easier. Thank you


Thank you very much for all your help through the past year.  I have been extremely impressed with the advice I have received, and in the area of the Residence Nil Rate Band, you made a substantial saving to the IHT bill.  I know that my father enjoyed his dealings with Thomson, Snell and Passmore over many decades, and he would be pleased to think that the handling of the estate had gone smoothly.


They are a highly skilled and efficient team with a very good reputation. They embrace technology and have taken advantage of the benefits new forms of communication can offer, particularly through the pandemic.

The Legal 500 2022
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