Not everyone understands what probate is and whether to appoint a professional such as a solicitor to help. All solicitors are regulated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority). There are also Specialist Probate companies who deal with probate however, they are regulated differently.
PROBATE AND DO I NEED A SOLICITOR?
Probate is a short-hand term for the administration of the estate of the person who has died. The estate is everything they have owned, both physically such as ordinary belongings and property and also any bank accounts and other investments of any kind. The person dealing with the estate (referred to as the Representative) obtains a Grant of Probate if there was a valid Will and a Grant of Letters of Administration if there was no Will. In this case there are Rules of Intestacy that have to be followed which dictate how the estate is divided. (Please refer to Rules of Intestacy section).
The probate process has a number of steps which we can explain to you in more detail if you need to call us.
In very simplified terms, the first step is to locate the Will. If there is a Will, then responsibility has to be taken by the person(s) named in the Will referred to as Executors. In the absence of a Will it is usually the nearest relative who will be appointed as their representative who administers the estate.
Probate is only required if the estate is over a certain value – when you notify banks and building societies that the person has died they will inform you if they will require probate before releasing funds to you. Usually probate will be required if the person who died owned a property, but this will depend on how the property was owned. Call us if you need us to explain this in more detail to you.
To obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, you will need to obtain full information about the estate (or as accurate as you can be) to be able to complete the necessary forms. If the estate is large enough that inheritance tax will be payable, this must be done within a set period of time.
Once the Grant has been obtained, assets can be gathered from banks etc. All debts must be paid before any beneficiaries named in the Will can receive their gifts.
Where there are potentially lots of creditors, Statutory Notices should be placed to protect the Administrators of an estate from any claims who otherwise may have been overlooked.
Although Statutory Notices are not a legal requirement, by placing them the Executor/Administrator will be protected from any personal liability if a creditor comes forward and makes a future claim after a distributed estate.
It is possible to carry out probate yourself. If the estate is fairly small, with most of the funds consolidated already by someone who held Power of Attorney for the person who died and no property, this may be something you wish to consider. However even with a small and simple estate, many people find the amount of time required (it will usually take several months to complete) and the form filling somewhat daunting. Larger and more complex estates often take a year or more before everything is completed.
Using a solicitor to do this work for you can seem a huge relief. Here at NBS we can recommend reputable solicitors on our panel who are not only competitively priced but that they are compassionate have an and understanding that they are acting for someone experiencing a bereavement. We expect our professional partners to maintain high professional standards which should be delivered with great sensitivity. In addition they must have transparent fee structures so that you know from the outset whether a flat fee structure is used based on the value of the estate and the amount of work required or whether there is a time element to the fee which may make the fees more unpredictable.
Do call us to explore whether using a solicitor will be the best option for you or whether you can deal with the estate yourself.
Click on the link to go to section headed probate FAQs
VAT AND DISBURSEMENTS
It is important that you understand the solicitor's invoices so you do not get an unwanted surprise.
In general solicitors present their fees exclusive of VAT. This means you will need to pay the VAT at the current rate (20%) on top of the fee listed.
Solicitors talk about disbursements, and these are fees they must make to third parties to complete the work on your behalf. They should always tell you what the disbursements are for and they can only charge you the exact figure they have paid to the third party.
In the case of applying for the Grant of Representation there will be the disbursement of £155 to pay plus £0.50 per copy of the grant.
There may be additional disbursements such as fees for transferring/selling shares, conveyancing fees and other costs associated with administering the estate. These will always be detailed in the quotation given to you when you instruct the solicitor.