What is estate administration?

Estate administration is the process of dealing with a person’s estate after they’ve died.  This normally means dealing with all of their property and personal possessions as well as their outstanding debts before transferring whatever is left to the beneficiaries.

So what is probate?

When administering an estate Probate is often also required to be granted to enable that estate to be distributed after their death.  Whilst it is often used as a generic term to refer to the entire estate administration process, it is not always required, e.g. if all assets are held in joint names or if the estate is worth less than £5,000.  However, the vast majority of estates being administered do require probate.

Who is responsible for estate administration?

The executors or administrators are responsible for the accurate distribution of the estate.  This means that if you are named in either role, you will assume legal and financial liability for all of the work that is involved. Unfortunately, should any mistakes be made in the administration process you will be personally responsible for rectifying them.

How long does an estate take to administer?

Estate administration is a long and complex legal process, so expect it to take months rather than weeks.  As each estate is different, it is almost impossible to tell how long the process will take without knowing more about the specific nature of the estate.  We typically find that to complete all of the work required on an ‘average’ estate takes up to nine months.

Can I administer the estate myself?

Yes, you can.  However, estate administration is a time consuming and labour intensive process.  80% of clients tell us that they underestimated how much work was involved.  If you are considering doing the work yourself, you should be confident that you can:

  • Complete all of the legal work, tax calculations and paperwork
  • Spare several hours a week to administer the estate from start to finish
  • Contact all of the third parties involved in the administration processes
  • Take on legal and financial liability for the process

Don’t I need to use a solicitor?

We recommend that you seek professional legal advice but this doesn’t need to be from a solicitor.  In fact, many solicitors deal with a small number of estates each year and therefore don’t possess specialist knowledge of this area of the law.  We can offer free legal guidance with no obligation – contact us if you have any questions – 01299 251442.