Probate

The majority of people choose to use professional help to deal with the legal formalities required to administer an estate.

Probate

The majority of people choose to use professional help to deal with the legal formalities required to administer an estate. There is far more involved than just filing in one or two forms and obtaining the grant of probate (see below). You have a choice of types of professional service. As with all professional services for which you will be charged (but in this case the fees are deducted from the estate) do ask as many questions as you need to about price structures and how the service will be provided.

A grant of probate is a court order that allows the executor of a will or their professional representative to deal with the property and financial affairs of the deceased. However, when most people use the word ‘probate’ they mean the whole process of discovering what someone has left, going through the legal process of gaining authority to deal with it (whether there is a will or not), paying off any debts and finally distributing the remainder to the people entitled to receive it. This is the administration of the estate, which can take several months and up to a year or more depending on the complexity and whether a property is involved.

Probate is very similar wether there is a will or not

Whether you need probate depends on the value of the estate. An asset holder (e.g. a bank) can insist that a grant be obtained for any amount over £5000 although many have a higher threshold. They are not being difficult – this is the procedure laid down in law to ensure the wishes of the deceased are carried out, creditors are paid and that the people named as beneficiaries do receive their entitlement.

There are choices available to you if you are asked by a bank or other asset holder for probate. Remember it is the executor who must formally make the decision how to do this or the nearest relative if there is no will. Many high street solicitors provide probate services and we can find a solicitor for you.

Banks carry out probate but often only do this for existing customers who have appointed the bank as executor.

It is possible to deal with probate yourself although we would only recommend this if the estate is simple or you have relevant experience.