In most instances, probate can be a complicated and confusing process. Even fairly simple estates can be a challenge to administer without the right help.
Being named in a Will as an executor of an estate, or being the personal representative of someone who has died without a Will, is a big responsibility, one that can be overwhelming to a layperson, particularly as all this responsibility comes at what is undoubtedly an already upsetting and emotionally draining time for you and your family. If you try to administer an estate of a deceased loved one on your own, there is a high probability that you’ll be faced with difficulty.
This is because trying to address all the various issues that can potentially arise during administration without the aid of a professional can lead to several mistakes being made, turning probate into a very costly and stressful process for the lay executor. At Oratto, we aim to save you the distress that such issues may bring by helping ensure you receive the right legal guidance.
In most cases – particularly where there are many high-value assets requiring complex inheritance tax calculations and therefore a higher likelihood of disputes arising between beneficiaries over the distribution of the estate – the services of a professional probate solicitor are highly recommended. A legal expert experienced in probate can help ease the burden and navigate the whole process for you so you can focus on more important matters, such as giving yourself sufficient time and space to grieve the loss of your loved one.
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As probate is a vast area of law, there are many solicitors to choose from, and we understand the amount of choice can add to the confusion, but Oratto makes choosing the most suitable solicitor for your case as straightforward as possible.
We also understand that some people may be put off by costly legal services and become concerned about the possibility of hidden fees, which may be part of the reason many are tempted to forgo a solicitor in the first place. That's why all our probate solicitors offer a fixed-price probate service, providing you with peace of mind that your loved one's estate will be correctly administered and that there won't be any unwelcome shocks in the form of additional surprise fees later down the line. You can use our Probate Costs Calculator to instantly receive and compare fixed-fee probate quotes today (see below for more information).
You can also read through the pages in this section for more information on probate, including dealing with the estate of a business owner and advice on how to locate a lost Will, and if you feel you're ready to find a solicitor who can help administer the estate of a loved one, contact us today. We can quickly match you with one of our member probate lawyers who is the most appropriate for your situation.
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Probate can be carried out by a layperson or by a specialist solicitor who has experience and expertise in negotiating what can often prove to be a complex, time-consuming and bewildering area of the law.
Inevitably, the question of probate will arrive at a difficult time for all concerned, and undertaking the process without legal support can be an onerous and thankless task – it may even prove to be divisive among relatives and beneficiaries – so choosing the right probate solicitor can make all the difference.
A QUICK PROBATE GLOSSARY
- TESTATOR: the deceased (person who made the will)
- ESTATE: assets and property of the deceased
- EXECUTOR: the person responsible for executing, or following through the instructions contained within the Will
- BENEFICIARY: a person, organisation or group of people that will receive a gift from the Will
- INTESTATE: a word describing the condition of dying with assets but no Will
SOMETIMES A SOLICITOR IS ESSENTIAL
In some circumstances it is strongly advised that a probate solicitor is instructed rather than a friend or family member doing it alone.
Examples of this include situations where there are concerns regarding the enforceability or validity of a Will, where the estate is valued above the inheritance tax threshold, where a dependant is not included as a beneficiary but may have a claim on the estate, and where there is no Will but the estate is worth in excess of £250,000.
GRANT OF REPRESENTATION
Grant of Representation is necessary for probate to be obtained as it allows access to the deceased’s assets. Below are different the types of probate which can be obtained by filling out the form known as PA1:
Probate takes an average of six to nine months to complete although it can take in excess of 12 months in more complex cases.
PROBATE SERVICES FROM SPECIALIST SOLICITORS, FOR YOU
Oratto exists so that it can put you in contact with the legal practitioner that is right for you. Our members are specialists and have experience of handling some of the most complex and difficult probate circumstances possible. When you come to Oratto, our priority is always to find you the right solicitor for your needs. Let us help you make contact with a probate solicitor today.
How much does it cost for probate?
|Grant of Probate/Grant of Letters of Administration only||Fee|
|Grant of probate only (Grant of letters of administration) – Estate value less than £325,000||£499 + vat *|
|Grant of probate only (Grant of letters of administration) – Estate value greater than £325,000||£799 + vat *|
|Full probate and administration service examples||Fee|
|Where the estate value is less than £325,000 with no inheritance tax liability:|
|Straightforward estate with one property, no significant debts or complications||£1,450 + vat *|
|Slightly more complex estate with multiple beneficiaries, property, shares and debts||£1,900 + vat *|
|Where the estate value is greater than £325,000 where inheritance tax is payable to HMRC:|
|Straightforward estate with one property, no significant debts or complications||£1,750 + vat *|
|Slightly more complex estate with multiple beneficiaries, property, shares and debts||£2,200 + vat *|
- A disbursement of £155 in relation to the court fee is payable in all cases above
- The above prices do not include the costs of conveyancing if there is an associated property sale
- The above prices assume a Will is readily available.
- You will need to budget approximately an additional £300 if there is no Will
How do you get probate?
To obtain a grant of probate when someone dies, there are four steps that must be taken:
- A probate application form (PA1) must be completed.
- The correct Inheritance Tax form must be completed. For estates likely to pay IHT use form IHT400, for estates unlikely to pay IHT use form IHT205.
- Submit the application forms to your nearest probate registry along with the original Will and death certificate.
- The executor applying for probate will need to swear an executor's oath, either at the local probate registry or a local solicitor's office.
How to find a will
Establishing if the deceased has made a valid Will is important. If you are unable to find a Will amongst personal papers, you could ask friends and family members if they know where the Will is stored. You can also contact the Probate Registry, The Law Society and The Society of Will Writers. It is also possible to search online to find out if a grant of representation has already been granted, and to whom. Read more
Who can apply for probate?
Only an executor of a Will or a solicitor acting on their behalf may apply for a grant of probate. If the deceased did not leave a Will, then the next of kin or their solicitor may apply for grant of letters of administration.
What is a grant of probate?
Grant of probate is the legal authority, issued by the court, which permits the executors of a Will to administer and distribute the deceased persons' estate, or to appoint a solicitor to do the work on their behalf.
What is a grant of representation?
Grant of representation is an overarching legal term which describes both the grant of probate and grant of letters of administration. The grant of representation gives the executor or the administrator the legal right to administer and distribute the deceased's estate.
What do I need to get probate? / What does an executor need for probate?
To obtain a grant of probate, the executor will need to provide the death certificate, the original Will, the application form PA1 and the correct Inheritance Tax form. There is also a court fee of £255 when applying in person, or £155 if a solicitor is making the application on your behalf. Read more
Where are my local probate offices?
To find your nearest local probate office, including opening times and contact information, please see our list of probate registry and sub-registry offices.
What is estate administration?
Estate administration is the process of gathering in and handling a deceased person's estate according to the wishes as set out in their Will. If there is no Will, once any debts have been paid, the remaining estate will be distributed in line with the rules of intestacy.
What are the stages of probate?
There are five main stages of probate:
- Valuing and collating the estate
- IHT payment (if applicable)
- Applying for grant of probate (letters of administration if there is no Will)
- Informing interested parties
- Gather the estate assets (liquidate if required)
- Pay any debts from the estate
- Distribute the estate in line with the Will or rules of intestacy if there is no Will
Is a solicitor essential in probate?
An experienced probate solicitor will be able to efficiently deal with the legalities of probate and estate administration, however it is not a legal requirement to instruct a lawyer. It is advisable to use a solicitor if there is property, land, shares or business interests within the estate, or if any part of the estate is to pass to children under the age of 18.
Do I need a local lawyer for probate?
No, a local solicitor is not a necessity. Probate is an administrative process which can be carried out using typical contact methods, such as phone, post and email, so the solicitor can be located at distance from the executor and/or the location of the deceased person's estate.
Can probate be carried out by a layperson?
If the estate is straightforward then it may be possible for a lay executor to carry out probate. The executor will need to have both the capability and time to devote to ensuring the estate is gathered in and then distributed in accordance with the law and the deceased's wishes. If the estate is not managed properly, executors may be personally liable for any unpaid debts to HMRC and other creditors.
What is the price of probate? / How much does probate cost?
The cost of probate is usually based on the overall value of the estate and can be as much as 5% plus VAT of the total estate value (according to the Money Advice Service). Fixed fee quotes are available in some cases and this helps executors be more certain of the overall cost of the service they will receive.
Probate pricing examples
The price for completing the probate process will vary between different lawyers, and could be anything up to 5% (plus VAT)* of the overall estate value. Oratto allows you to compare competitive quotes which have been tailored to your specific information.
For example, below are two Oratto quotes for fixed fee probate services:
- £2,996.00 (£2,522.50 + VAT) – based on an estate with one property, 2 bank accounts and an overall value of £285,000
- £5,454.29 (£4,571.07 + VAT) – based on an estate with one property, 2 bank accounts, 1 private pension and an overall value of £672,000
*According to the Money Advice Service
Can I compare probate quotes? / Can I get fixed-fee probate?
Oratto's quote calculator allows you to compare competitive fixed fee quotes for probate and estate administration work from a variety of specialist probate solicitors. Simply complete a short form about the deceased's estate and you will be presented with quotes instantly on your laptop, tablet or mobile phone screen. You will then be able to compare the quotes from individual solicitors, so you can select the professional who you wish to handle your loved one's estate.
Are there legal bills before probate?
There should be no need to pay any legal fees upfront. You may be asked to pay the court fee of £155 for the grant of representation. However, Oratto lawyers do not ask for any fees or disbursements until probate is granted; all legal fees and disbursements will be paid from the estate.
What are the timescales in probate/ How long does probate take?
It usually takes around six to eight weeks to obtain the grant of probate or letters of administration. Full completion of the estate, including the distribution of assets, is likely to take around six to nine months. If the estate is complex or the Will is being contested, it may take more than a year to finalise. Read more about probate timescales
What are testamentary trusts?
Testamentary trusts are typically established by people who want to provide for the care of children, or other dependents, following their own death and they will usually be set up as a result of instructions in a Will. A testamentary trust is a way to ensure that assets are safeguarded until the point at which the beneficiary becomes capable of self-managing them.
What is disputed probate?
Disputed, or contentious, probate occurs when the process of administering an estate is exacerbated by disagreement. The dispute could relate to the value of assets, the interpretation of the Will, or it may be caused by problematic executors or beneficiaries who disagree about how the estate is being handled.
Help with probate problems
Oratto member lawyers are here to help you with any aspect of probate or problems you may be experiencing with the probate process. Whether you cannot locate the Will, are having difficulty collating all the necessary information, or just require someone to apply for probate on your behalf, Oratto can help you find the probate solicitor who is right for your needs.
How many British people don't have a Will?
Surprisingly, around 59% (almost two thirds) of adults in the UK do not have a Will in place. The North-West of England and London are the regions where the fewest adults have a Will. Around 36% of over 55s have no Will in place, and 73% of adults between 18 and 34 have not written a Will. (2016 Figures from Prudential and Unbiased.co.uk)
Is probate the same in Scotland as in England and Wales
In Scotland, instead of grant of probate, the Sheriff Court issues "confirmation" as the legal document permitting a representative to collect any money, property or other assets which belonged to the deceased and to administer the estate and distribute it according to law, and in line with the deceased's Will. Some rules are the same, such as the application of Inheritance Tax. If the estate is intestate (there is no valid Will) there are certain rules of intestacy which are different in Scotland.
How does intestacy work in Scotland?
In Scotland, under the rules of intestacy, there are three descending categories of rights to inherit as detailed in The Succession (Scotland) Act 1964:
- Prior rights,
- Legal rights, and
- The free estate.
For more information on intestacy in Scotland, Oratto can help.