A guide to Probate
Losing a relative or a close friend is always going to be a difficult time and having the responsibility for the administration of their estate can be daunting. Dealing with legal and financial formalities can be complicated and time-consuming; therefore it helps to have experienced probate solicitors such as Goughs on your side, sharing the workload and responsibility.
Do you have any questions about Probate? Contact us today.
Questions to be answered in this article
What is Probate?
When someone dies, you may be in charge of sorting out their property, money and other possessions in a process known as ‘probate’.
How long does Probate take?
The probate process can take anywhere from 3-12 months – sometimes even longer in more complex cases.
- Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 6-12 weeks.
- Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 6-12 weeks – this can be a lot longer if there is a property to sell.
- Once this has been done, we can distribute the assets, which normally takes 6-12 weeks to include preparing final accounts.
Why does Probate take so long?
Probate involves a significant amount of legal, tax and administrative work which can be very time consuming.
How much does Probate cost?
Our approach is to fully understand you, your challenges and what you require from us so we can agree and deliver a result that meets your needs.
To give you a rough guide we anticipate this will take between 20 and 40 hours work at between £195 and £240 per hour, so total costs are estimated at £3,900 and £9,600 (+VAT). As explained above the exact cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter.
We will give you a more accurate quote once we have more information. Get in touch today to discuss your circumstances.
What is a ‘Grant of Probate?
A Grant of Probate is a legal document that may be required to administer the Estate of someone who has died. Once this document has been obtained, the Executors can then deal with all the legal, tax and administrative duties involved in Estate administration.
How does the Probate process work?
Every estate and every Will is different. The exact probate process can vary depending on the instructions left in the Will and the assets, creditors, and beneficiaries the estate has.
The basic process is
- Check if there’s a Will – this normally states who should deal with the Estate. If there is no Will the next of kin can apply.
- Apply for Grant of Probate
- Complete an inheritance tax return and pay any tax due
- You receive a Grant of Probate
- Collect the Estate’s assets (e.g money from the sale of the person’s property).
- Repay any of the deceased’s outstanding debts (For example unpaid utility bills)
- Distribute the Estate, (the property, money or possessions) according to the instructions left in the Will.
When does Probate end?
Probate ends once all taxes and debts have been paid and all inheritance passed on.
Who can apply for Probate?
If the deceased left a Will, the executor/s that are named in the will are responsible for applying for probate and handling the process.
What is an executor?
Executors are appointed in the Will. In short, In short, an executor is the person (or people) legally responsible for carrying out the wishes of someone in their will. They’ll collect in the estate and distribute it to the beneficiaries (those named in the will), and ensure any debts are paid.
Probate without a Will – is this possible?
If the person died without a Will, you will need letters of administration to prove you have the legal right to deal with the estate. These go to the next of kin such as a husband or wife, civil partner, or a child. You can’t apply if you’re an unmarried partner. In fact, you’re not automatically entitled to any of your partner’s estate. This is another reason why it is so important to make a Will.
Can a Will be challenged?
Yes, you can challenge or contest a will, if you strongly believe it doesn’t accurately represent the deceased intentions of their assets, or if you believe it is invalid for other reasons.
Get in touch with our inheritance disputes team.
At Goughs our experienced legal team is here to offer a helping hand, whether you need initial advice, assistance with a difficult stage or for someone to take responsibility for the whole probate process.
Do I need a Solicitor to help with the Probate process?
Many people are not aware that solicitors can handle any stage of the administration process on your behalf, or simply assist with the stages you find most challenging.
Estates are not always simple and easy to administer and can in fact be quite complicated. In these circumstances, the support a solicitor can provide is invaluable, especially when inheritance tax is payable or there are foreign assets.
Many executors are unaware that they can be held financially liable for any errors made, such as failure to pay tax due or incorrectly distributing funds. Therefore, people using the online service can potentially be placed at greater risk due to the possibility of making significant mistakes or falling victim to fraud. If in doubt over any complex probate issues, it is always best to consult a member of our Private Client team to ensure the estate is administered correctly.
Ultimately, the executors decide exactly how much help they require and which parts of the estate (if any) they wish to hand over to their solicitor.
Who is responsible for paying the Solicitor?
The fees to pay the probate solicitor are usually taken out of the estate funds, the executor is not personally liable.