Probate and Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Publish date

15 January 2024

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. This article explains that what might start as a probate instruction involves far more than just the probate process.

At Thomson Snell & Passmore our client is always our main priority. When we are asked to help with the administration of the deceased’s estate this can be just the start of our journey.  The administration of an estate can be time consuming and difficult with a number of hurdles to cross.  Many people will die still owning a property.  If the estate is taxable then we can help put the executors in touch with chartered surveyors or estate agents through our network of contacts, consulting with our colleagues in the residential conveyancing team as to who may be most appropriate to help given the type of property and location.  When it comes to selling the property or transferring it to a beneficiary, again we liaise closely with our conveyancing team to provide the client with a seamless service.

Tax and HMRC

When someone dies their lifetime tax affairs need to be completed with HMRC. Often the deceased will have filed their own personal tax returns with the Revenue. If further tax returns are required or if they need to be completed for the administration period of the estate, then we have our own in-house team who are able to provide this service. The same team prepare tax returns annually for individuals and trustees.

Each estate we come across is different.  It may be that the deceased had their own business in which case we may need to turn to our commercial or employment teams for assistance. In other cases the nature of the deceased’s death may mean we need to consult with our personal injury or medical negligence team.

Sadly, not all estates progress smoothly, possibly due to tensions within families. This can add stress to clients at what may already be a challenging time for them. If an estate does turn contentious or threatens to do so then we look to our internal team who specialise in contentious probate to help and guide our clients through possible negotiations or ultimately the court process in order to reach a resolution.

However, most of the time matters proceed smoothly and the beneficiaries ultimately benefit from the deceased’s estate. Our commitment to client service does not end there.  We want to do the best for the deceased’s beneficiaries.  In some cases, the beneficiary does not wish to benefit from the deceased’s estate but may instead wish to pass assets on to others or perhaps to create a trust for future protection of assets.  We can help by preparing post death variations to redirect the benefit received in the most tax efficient manner.

Benefiting from an estate is also a good time to review the beneficiary’s personal position. Liaising with our tax planning colleagues, a review can be carried out to ensure the beneficiary has their own will and Lasting Powers of Attorney in place and that they are still fit for purpose. This may also involve thinking about making gifts during lifetime or thinking about the creation of trusts, possibly under their will, to do their best to protect assets for future generations.

If a deceased’s will has left assets in trust then we have a dedicated team who are able to assist with the ongoing management of the trust. The trust team can help the trustees with taxation of the trust and compliance issues such as the Trust Registration Service and also provide guidance on when and how funds may be distributed.

Our focus throughout is on the client and how we can help to make whatever issues they face easier to deal with.

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