Probate Solicitors

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What is probate?

Probate is the process of obtaining the rights to begin distributing a person’s estate when they die. That includes their money, property and possessions. The estate is passed on as inheritance once the person’s taxes and debt is paid.

The person who does this is named on the deceased person’s Will as the executor.

Having a solicitor help you through the process of probate can reduce stress at an already difficult time and provide the reassurance that everything is being done properly.

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Where should I begin?

The first thing you should do when beginning the process of probate is to find the Will of the deceased person, if there is one.

You could start by contacting the deceased’s solicitor or bank. You could also use the local probate registry or you can search online for a probate record via the government website.

When the Will is found, it should name the executors. They will need to apply for a grant of probate, so that they can begin dealing with their assets and pay their debts or any necessary tax.

Another requirement of the process is to estimate the value of the person’s estate. This includes their money, property and possessions.

Speaking to a specialist probate solicitor can help make the process of probate as straightforward as possible, helping to reduce your stress levels at a very difficult time.

Here at First4Lawyers, we can put you in contact with the right solicitor. Just give us a call and we will be happy to help you.

How the process of probate works

Due to every Will being different and having a varied set of instructions and technicalities, the process of probate can differ.

In general, the probate process involves:

  • Gathering the full details of the deceased person’s assets and debts
  • Applying for a grant of probate, which gives permission for them to administer the wishes of the Will and share out the inheritance between the beneficiaries
  • Completing an inheritance tax return and paying any outstanding tax
  • Receiving the grant of probate
  • Repaying any of the deceased’s outstanding debts
  • Distributing the rest of the estate, following the instructions within the person’s Will

How long does the process of probate take?

The process of probate usually takes around a year to be completed. Of course, the actual timeline could differ depending on the complexities and size of the estate.

If the estate is based abroad, then the process could take up to two years to be completed.

Other disputes over executors and beneficiaries can also mean the process takes longer.

If you are facing issues with the process of probate, just give us a call at First4Lawyers. We are here to get you the help you need.

Who can apply for probate?

If a Will was left, the named executor can apply for probate. If there is no Will, the closest living relative can apply.

If the named executor chooses not to administer the estate, then a solicitor can apply for probate on behalf of the executor.

Currently, individuals pay £273 probate fees. There is no fee for an estate valued at under £5,000.

How much does probate cost?

How much the probate process costs can depend on how complex the process is.

If the value of the estate is worth over £5000 then the application fee is £273. If the estate of the deceased person is under the value of £5000 then there is no fee for applying for probate.

If you wish to order more copies of the probate document, then it costs £1.50 each. This is usually done so you can send copies to various organisations who need proof.

What happens when a Will doesn’t exist?

In some cases, a deceased person may not have a Will. In this instance, a close relative will need to apply for probate to administer the person’s estate. The law states that the estate must be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

These rules set out who will inherit. This will be a spouse or civil partner first. If the deceased was not married or in a civil partnership, this will then be close relatives.

If the Will becomes legally invalid for any reason, the rules of intestacy will be followed.

First4Lawyers strongly recommends making a Will. We are happy to find you the solicitor to help you write a Will.

I want to organise probate – do I need a solicitor?

The process of probate can be complex and daunting, as well as being time consuming.

If you need help in finding your loved one’s Will, applying for probate or administering the estate, then just get in touch with us at First4Lawyers and speak to one of our expert advisors.

We’re here to help when you need it most.

Wills and Probate FAQs

What is my estate?

Your estate covers all your belongings and finances. This could include:

  • Property
  • Cash
  • Bank accounts
  • Digital currency, such as Bitcoin
  • Vehicles
  • Investments
  • Jewellery
  • Art
  • Household possessions
  • Digital assets, such as film or music downloads

What does an executor do?

The executor of a Will handles the distribution of assets. They will also typically register the death, find the Will, identify all assets and debts, pay any debts and arrange the funeral.

They will also apply for probate and deal with the finances of the deceased. This includes closing any bank accounts and cancelling any recurring direct debits.

Do I need a grant of probate?

A grant of probate is required when dealing with an estate where a Will has been left behind. You will require letters of administration if no Will has been left.

Probate is not required if the amount of money left behind is considered small by the deceased's bank. This figure depends on individual banks but ranges between £5,000 and £50,000.

You will need to apply for probate if you are the Will executor or you named in the Will.

Can a Will be contested?

It is possible for a Will to be contested. This usually happens when someone disagrees with what has been set out in the Will.

This could be because the person thinks the Will was made under duress, they think it is invalid, they believe it was not executed correctly or they think they should receive a different inheritance.

Working with a legal expert reduces the chances of a Will being contested.

Is probate required to sell a house?

If the deceased person was the sole owner of a property, probate will be required to sell it.

But if they owned a property as joint tenants, the other owner can sell it with a copy of the death certificate. If the property was owned as tenants in common, probate is necessary to sell it.

Where can I store my Will?

In most cases, your solicitor will store your original Will for you. In an already stressful situation, this can make it easier for the executor to carry out their duties when a loved one passes away.

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