Speak to us on 0114 266 6660
Send us an Email Enquiry
Wake Smith Twitter
Wake Smith Linked In
Wake Smith Facebook

Estate Administration

When a person dies, someone has to deal with their affairs. This is called ‘administering the estate’.

Our team of estate administration solicitors in Sheffield are committed to providing whatever level of help and assistance you need when dealing with the administration of an estate. This can range from dealing with the whole administration, collecting in the assets and distributing them to the beneficiaries and setting up will trusts. It can include simply providing a service of preparing the paperwork to apply for the Grant of representation.

Where detailed Inland Revenue accounts need to be prepared for an estate we are also happy to assist in the preparation of those and then you deal with collecting in of the assets and all other aspects of the estate administration.

If the person who has died leaves a will, it will usually name one or more people to act as the executors of the will – that is, to administer their estate.

If you are named as an executor of a will you may need to apply for a grant of probate.

A grant of probate is an official document which the executors may need to administer the estate.  It is issued by a section of the court known as the Probate Registry.

If there is no will

If there is no will (known as dying ‘intestate’) the process is more complicated.  The Administration of Estates Act 1925 sets out who can act as administrator – that is, who has the legal right to deal with the affairs of the person who has died.  The administrator will usually be a close relative of the person who has died, if there is one.  There may be more than one person who has an equal right to do this.

Anyone who has this right can apply to the probate registry for a grant of letters of administration.  This is an official document, issued by the court, which allows administrators to administer the estate.

In some cases, for example, when the person who benefits is a child, the law says that more than one person must act as administrator.

When a grant of representation is needed

A grant of representation is not always needed, for example if the person who died:

  • has left less than £5000 in total; or
  • owned everything jointly with someone else.

In other cases, some financial organisations, such as banks, may agree to pay funds to a personal representative without a grant of representation if the estate is very small – it is always worth asking.

Usually, a grant of representation will be needed when the person who has died left:

  • more than £5000;
  • stocks or shares;
  • a house or land; or
  • certain insurance policies.

Responsibilities of personal representatives

The PRs have a heavy responsibility.  They must:

  • Safeguard the assets in the estate
  • Collect the assets into their control
  • Distribute the assets to the correct beneficiaries, either according to the will or the intestacy rules

PRs have a legal duty to carry out these tasks with due diligence and we are here to guide you as to how the estate is to be administered correctly.

Inheritance tax

The PRs are also responsible for finding out if inheritance tax is due as a result of a person’s death.  If it is, the personal representative has to make sure that it is paid to H M Revenue and Customs (the Capital Taxes Office).

Whether inheritance tax needs to be paid can depend on:

  • how much the property and belongings of the dead person were worth when they died;
  • the value of any gifts that they gave before they died, and who they gave these gifts to;
  • the value of certain trusts from which the dead person benefited; or
  • which people benefit under the will or under the rules of intestacy (the beneficiaries) – for example, gifts passing to the deceased person’s spouse or to charity will be exempt from inheritance tax.

Inheritance Tax is payable when the grant of probate is applied for, but since all the assets are frozen as at the date of death, funds from the estate cannot always be used for this purpose.  Some banks and building societies will release funds solely to pay inheritance tax, but if this is not possible, or the available cash is insufficient, then it may be necessary for the PRs to arrange a short-term loan from the deceased’s bank to cover the inheritance tax. 

What happens next?

Once the grant of probate has been obtained, the executors or administrators are able to deal with:

  • The collection of assets
  • Any sales of assets
  • Payment of any outstanding debts

For example, this might involve the following:

  • Selling the house or transferring it into the names of the beneficiaries
  • Closing bank accounts
  • Selling shares or transferring them to beneficiaries
  • Claiming money due under life insurance policies
  • Collection pension arrears
  • Selling personal effects
  • Checking or transferring insurance cover

There are also a good many other matters connected with daily life:

  • Refunds on season ticket
  • Cancelling subscriptions
  • Cancelling passport
  • Dealing with uncashed cheques

The collection of some assets is more difficult than others.  Advice may well be needed when dealing with shares in a private company, a family business or assets situated abroad.

Payment of debts

The PRs must pay all debts owed by the deceased before distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.  The PRs may be personally liable for any debts if they distributed the estate without first making sure that the creditors have been paid.  It is sensible to use the statutory notice procedure to advertise for creditors and we can advise you about this.

If the deceased person’s assets are insufficient to cover the debts, the estate is “insolvent” and special rules apply – again we can advise you further.

H M Revenue and Customs will examine the inheritance tax return that was filed by the PRs and agree the extent of any liability for inheritance tax.  This may take many months if H M Revenue and Customs wish to negotiate with us over values.  However, we will always do our best to keep things moving forward as quickly as possible.  A clearance certificate is issued by H M Revenue and Customs once the inheritance tax liability is agreed and paid.

Any income earned by the assets of the estate during the administration period will need to be declared for income tax purposes.  If any assets are sold, there may be capital gains tax to pay.

When all of the assets have been realised and the debts, administration expenses and tax have been paid, the remainder of the estate can be transferred to the beneficiaries.  The PRs should produce estate accounts to the beneficiaries showing receipts, payments and the division of the estate.  The PRs should also prepare certificates for the beneficiaries showing the income received during the administration period and the income tax deducted from it.  If the beneficiary is a non-taxpayer this enables him to recover the whole or part of the tax paid by the PRs.  If the beneficiary is a higher rate tax payer he will need to pay additional tax via his own tax return.

Wake Smith is recommended in The Legal 500* for its personal tax, trusts and probate expertise

Estate Administration Team

Suzanne Porter

Breda Cashell

Rachel Baseley

Jessica Rowbotham

Shaun Talbot

Jennifer Robinson

Our Clients Say

Please click on any of the links below to see our client’s testimonials.

Mike Hirst - Swann-Morton
Brian Middleton
David and Elizabeth Marsden
Joanne and Michael Duffin
Michael Moore
Mrs C C

"Suzanne Porter and Rachel Baseley have advised many of our employees on such delicate matters either at Wake Smith’s offices, Swann-Morton’s premises or in individuals’ homes, and have always been compassionate, understanding and patient in gaining an understanding of their requirements and wishes whilst delivering a solution in a professional manner. Their reaction has been very timely when required, which has helped to reassure the individuals and their families. We look forward to a continuing long-term and professional relationship not only with the Wills and Probate team but with Wake Smith as a whole."

Mike Hirst - Swann-Morton

Useful Info

Click on the links to the right for more useful information:

News & Events

We constantly post the latest news on the legal sector covering a wide range of topical issues and subjects

These articles provide useful and updated information on different sectors of the legal industry. 

Sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter. Please register your details below to receive the latest legal news and developments.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

We will not share your details with any third party organisations.

Contact Us

Get expert legal advice from one of Sheffield’s most respected law firms, Wake Smith Solicitors.

Our team of friendly, professional solicitors in Sheffield can provide support and advice in a wide range of areas for you and your business. Call our Sheffield Solicitors on 0114 266 6660 or fill out the simple form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

For all media enquiries, please contact Abby Worsnip or Billy Greenhalgh at www.agentpr.co.uk.

Important – Please read our privacy notice for more information on how we use your data.

* Indicates required field

First Name:*
Practice Area:*
Brief description of your enquiry:*

Please enter your first name.

Please enter your surname.

Please enter your address.

Please enter your contact telephone number.

Please enter your e-mail address.

Please enter a valid e-mail address.

Please enter what method you wish to be contacted via.

Please select what practice area you are interested in.

Please enter your enquiry.

Please check the box to confirm you are not a robot.

The form has been successfully submited. Thank you for your enquiry.


We're Here...

Office Hours:
Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Sheffield Head Office - City Centre
No1 Velocity
2 Tenter Street
S1 4BY
Tel: 0114 266 6660
Fax: 0114 267 1253
Click here to find us on Google Maps »

DX: 10534 Sheffield 1


Car park

There is a large public carpark operated by NCP underneath our office building, the entrance to which is located on Solly St.

Disabled Facilities

If you have any special requirements relating to accessibility or disabled facilities please contact John Liversidge on 0114 224 2075 or at john.liversidge@wake-smith.com