McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Why Probate is like a foxtrot

I always think that dealing with Probate matters is a bit like a foxtrot, sometimes things proceed quickly and at other times they are slow, slow, slow.  Having just finalised two recent Probate matters it reminded me of how we can assist people in very different ways.

Case 1 – Just the tax forms and the Grant

In this matter Mum sadly died having reached the ripe old age of 90 leaving her daughter as Executor in her will.  Her only daughter worked part time in a responsible position and decided to progress the estate herself.  She duly contacted all the necessary parties and identified all the assets and liabilities in the estate.  It than came time to complete the tax forms and apply for the Grant.

An executor in an estate needs to obtain a Grant of Probate to sell any estate property and recover the assets.  In some cases if the assets are small then a Grant is not required, however in this case the type of assets meant that a Grant was essential.

Daughter discovered that her Mum’s estate required her to complete the dreaded IHT 400 to declare assets to HMRC and then she found a buyer for Mum’s flat which meant that she needed to proceed quickly or risk losing the sale.  The IHT 400 is the form that is sent to the tax office to explain why you do or don’t need to pay inheritance tax on an estate.  There is a shorter form which can be used called the IHT205 if the size and type of assets in the estate meet certain criteria.

We were instructed to apply for the Grant as it only takes 7 working days for a Solicitor to obtain a Grant as opposed to 4 weeks if you make a personal application.  We completed the tax documents within the week and after corresponding with the tax office submitted the application for the Grant of Probate.  This was duly returned on schedule and the sale proceeded according to plan.  We then handed the documents back to daughter for her to continue to pay the liabilities, gifts etc.

The client was delighted with the service and we received a lovely lemon drizzle cake as a thank you made according to one of Mum’s old recipes.


Case 2 – Administering the whole estate

In this matter Dad died having been estranged from the family for many years, he did not leave a will, which means he died intestate.  One of the five children in the family instructed us to deal with the administration of the whole estate, which included identifying who had the right to inherit the assets under the statutory rules of intestacy.

In order to start the administration of the estate we worked through all the paperwork left in Dad’s house.  Identifying where assets were held such as bank accounts, insurance policies and pensions.  We also made sure that any liabilities were also identified in relation to loans, mortgages or just utility bills.

It took quite a while to sell the property that Dad lived in when he died as it was a little run down and the property had to be cleared, hence the slow, slow, slow! While waiting for a buyer to be found we completed the tax forms to send to HMRC and obtained the Grant of Letters of Administration.  When there is no will the Grant is called a Grant of Letters of Administration as opposed to a Grant of Probate, and the Executors are called Personal Representatives.

After the property had been sold we were able to pay all the liabilities and deal with the relevant financial institutions.  We also had to take steps to track down all the estranged family members and ensure that all the relevant legal checks were completed before they could receive their inheritance. The whole process took 12 – 18 months.

The client was really happy with the service, no cake this time just a big thank you and a hug.

If we can assist you with all or part of a Probate matter in Altrincham, Heywood, Rochdale, please contact us on 0161 928 3848, or by email at