Probate – What do I do?

18 Jul 2019

When a loved one passes away it can be an upsetting and stressful time. Many people are not sure what steps they need to take or what procedures or legal rules they need to follow particularly if they are named as executor in the will or if a will cannot be found and an intestacy situation arises.

At Trethowans LLP our professional yet friendly team of private client solicitors can provide you with practical legal advice on all matters relating to estate administration and probate including:

• What practical steps need to be taken to register the death and arrange a funeral;
• Advice on what legal steps need to be taken, an explanation of probate and who can do what;
• Who is the correct personal representative and what duties and liabilities that person has;
• Who you need to inform and when.

If you are an executor or need advice on probate and administration of estate matters please give us a call on 01722 412512 and ask to speak to a member of the Wills, Probate & Trusts team.

Wills & Probate – understanding the jargon

For as long as lawyers have existed, despairing clients have struggled to make sense of the all too often incomprehensible legal language. In order to provide you with some assistance, we have explained below some of the terms that you might come across during the course of making a will or going through probate.

Administration Period

During the probate process, the period between the date of death and the date on which the estate is wound up.


The transfer of an asset to a beneficiary such as a car or jewellery, either in full or in part satisfaction of a legacy or other entitlement.


A person who is due to inherit when someone dies.

Contingent Gift

A gift that only takes place when a particular event occurs, such as a beneficiary reaching the age of 21.

Deed of Variation

A legal document signed by a beneficiary which re-directs their gift under a will or intestacy to someone else.

Estate Accounts

Accounts recording money that has been received and paid out during the administration period.

Inheritance Tax

A tax payable on death on monies passing to beneficiaries. Every person in the UK can currently pass up to £325,000 free of tax on their death (subject to certain rules about lifetime gifts) but anything above this can potentially be subject to tax at 40%. Some beneficiaries, such as charities, are exempt from inheritance tax.


If a person dies without making a will, the intestacy rules will decide who gets what.


A legacy is a gift of money, personal possessions or other assets by will. The person receiving a legacy is referred to as a legatee.

Living Will

A document setting out the circumstances in which you would not wish to receive life sustaining medical treatment if you became seriously ill in the future.

Mirror Wills

Wills made by two people which are almost identical in content.

Personal Representative or PR

An executor (where there is a will) or administrator (where there is not).

Power of Attorney

A legal document whereby a person gives another person or persons the power to take decisions with regard to their financial affairs and/or their health and welfare.

Renouncing Probate

Where a named executor signs a legal document which cancels their rights and duty to act as executor.

Residuary Estate

The bulk of the estate i.e. what remains after payment of all debts, legacies, taxes and expenses.

For more information please contact Jenny Shucksmith, an experienced legal executive in our Wills, Probate & Trusts team, on 01722 412512.


Jenny Shucksmith

Chartered Legal Executive