Is it always necessary to apply for probate?
No. Probate normally need only be applied for when there are:
- General assets worth more than £5,000
- Stocks or shares
- Certain insurance policies
- Property or land held in the deceased person’s own name or held as ‘tenants in common’ with someone else
These days, banks and building societies often impose their own discretionary limit for when they need a grant of probate.
Who can apply for probate?
Depending upon whether the deceased person leaves a will or not influences whether a ‘grant of probate’ or a ‘grant of letters of administration’ should be applied for. Either the executors of the will (if there is one) or a close relative may apply, or alternatively a solicitor.
How do I apply for probate?
Obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration can be a complex procedure requiring the completion of a number of probate forms, which the Probate Registry will send onto you. Details of your nearest Probate Registry can be obtained via HM Courts and Tribunals Service
What does the probate process involve?
Once you have completed the probate application form (PA1), this should be sent to your local Probate Registry with various forms. The Probate Registry will send you an oath and ask you to make an appointment to visit them. You will need to swear the oath at either the office of a commissioner for oaths (usually a solicitor) or a local Probate Office (see below for engaging the services of a solicitor).
If I apply for probate, what are my responsibilities?
There are numerous factors to deal with when handling probate, such as advising various government offices like H M Revenue & Customs, the DVLA, the Council Tax department and pension providers etc. It is also the responsibility of the person dealing with probate to ensure all financial liabilities such as credit cards, overdrafts and loans are settled from the proceeds of the estate as failure to do so makes that individual personally liable for these. In view of the responsibilities placed on the person dealing with probate, many people choose to engage the services of a solicitor.
Are there Inheritance Tax implications?
There could be. Inheritance Tax is a complicated area and there are several factors which affect whether this is payable and how much. It is always best to seek the advice of a solicitor in this regard.
How long does it take for probate to be granted?
Once applied for, a grant of probate normally comes through in four to six weeks, however, it can take longer depending on the complexity of the estate being dealt with.
Is it normally advisable to engage the services of a solicitor to deal with probate?
Yes. Like many legal processes, probate can be very complicated involving the completion of many different forms and also places certain responsibilities on the individual dealing with a person’s estate. Some of the benefits of using a solicitor are:
- Speed – it is generally quicker as no appointment at the Probate Registry is required when a solicitor is used, which can save a great deal of time and inconvenience
- Property – if the deceased person’s estate includes a property a solicitor will need to be instructed at some stage and therefore using a solicitor for the probate can assist with the sale of a deceased person’s property
- No Will – if the deceased person has died without a will (intestate), having a solicitor to advise on the intestacy rules can be essential
- Inheritance Tax – if the deceased person’s estate attracts inheritance tax issues, a solicitor may well be able to advise on how to reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable
- Contested Probate – if the will is in dispute, having a solicitor to advise upon procedure is often vital
- Protection – a solicitor carries professional indemnity insurance for all work undertaken to protect a client against mistakes that may be made. This helps alleviate any individual concerns an executor may have when undertaking probate personally
If I instruct you in my probate matter, do I have to visit your offices?
It is not mandatory but we will need to obtain proof of your identity as required by law, as well as any relevant documentation relating to the deceased person’s estate.
What do I do now?
If you would like us to deal with your probate matter, simply call or email us and we would be happy to discuss your requirements in a professional and sympathetic manner.