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  • Debra Williamson

Guide to probate

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

When someone close to you dies the difficulties you face can be unbearable. The last thing a lot of people want to get involved in is sorting out their loved one’s estate. It is then that one that starts searching for legal advice as they often prefer to instruct an expert to deal with obtaining probate.

The Steps of Probate

How much probate costs in instructing a solicitor depends on what level of service you require. You need to ascertain if the deceased has left a will. You may find this strange but no more than 40% of people in the UK are said to have made one. You can check if a will exists by contacting family and friends and the will registry and/or the deceased’s previous solicitors or bank.

If there is no will this means the deceased died intestate. The next of kin can apply for the grant

usually through solicitors. If there is a will then the executor can consult a solicitor to apply for the grant of probate. It is the grant of probate that gives them the legal right to access financial accounts etc. The reason why executors normally appoint a solicitor is because there are complex forms involved that requires submission to both the probate registry and HMRC. These forms must be completely accurately, and they need to include things like whether the deceased made lifetime gifts. If there are errors in completion, then the executor can be held personally liable. If the estate is less than £5000 then probate is not always required but always check with a professional first.

You can instruct a solicitor to apply for the grant on your behalf and once that is obtained you may choose to do the rest yourself. It is an SRA requirement for solicitors to be transparent on probate fees and fees should be displayed on a solicitor’s website. After obtaining the grant you will need to administer the estate in accordance with the wishes of the will. If you do this without a solicitors help and if a beneficiary is omitted then once again you are personally liable.

You have nothing to lose in speaking to a solicitor especially if the initial consultation is free.

Please do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

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