What is probate?
Probate is the legal process of handling the affairs of someone who has passed away. An executor who has been named in a person’s Will can be granted probate, or probate can be granted to a specialist probate solicitor.
- Probate and estate administration – Estate administration is carried out by a probate solicitor to settle the affairs of a deceased person.
- Disputed probate – Dispute and contest probate that you feel is invalid with the help of our experienced probate solicitors.
Probate solicitors can help you resolve the complex issues that can crop up when a Will is actioned - or even if there is no Will. It's always an emotional time when a loved one dies, and the help of an experienced solicitor can relieve the strain when it comes to sorting the legal side of personal and financial affairs.
Contact First4Lawyers for a no-obligation chat about how our legal specialists could help.
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When is probate required?
Typically, In England and Wales, probate is legally required for:
- Property – If the deceased person owned any property, which may include buildings and land.
- Finances – Banks, building societies and other financial institutions may need a Grant of Representation so the deceased person’s finances can be handled. Even if the deceased person’s finances aren’t complex, a grant may still be needed.
These are the situations when probate is required by law, but probate can be useful for executing other areas of a person’s Will, and can make access to information and documents much easier than when probate hasn’t been granted.
Probate with and without a Will
The process of probate changes depending on whether the deceased person left a Will.
Probate with a Will: If a person created a Will, they probably named their preferred executor. That person is responsible for dealing with the estate and will be able to apply for probate. The Will may have named more than one executor. In this case, the probate application has to be carried out by all of them with one main executor named.
If no executor is named, or none of the named executors are able or willing to act in this role, you should contact the Probate Registry or a probate solicitor.
Probate without a Will: If someone has died without leaving a Will, probate can be granted to an administrator, rather than an executor. The next of kin of the deceased can apply to be an administrator. This includes the person’s spouse, civil partner or children. Unmarried partners of the deceased can’t apply.
The law will decide who inherits the deceased person’s estate, and it can be dealt with by a probate solicitor.
Probate and inheritance tax
Inheritance tax at a rate of 40% is applied to the estate of a deceased person, but there are limits. No tax is applied to any part of the estate valued under £325,000, with the threshold increasing to £425,000 if the estate is left to the deceased's children or grandchildren.
The executor of the deceased person’s Will is responsible for paying inheritance tax to HMRC, or the probate solicitor if no named executor is given or wants to act.
If you’re confused or unsure about inheritance tax, our probate solicitors will be able to help.
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What would you like to know about probate?
How do I know if probate is needed?
Probate is required if your loved one owned property, or a Grant of Responsibility is requested by their bank, building society or other financial body. Not sure if that applies to your situation? Contact us today for expert probate advice.
What is a grant of probate?
A grant of probate is given to the executor of a Will. The executor will be named in a person’s Will, and the process of probate means they are legally allowed to carry out the deceased person’s wishes, and to handle their personal and financial affairs.
How long does probate take?
The process of being granted probate has no set time scale. For very simple cases, where all forms are correctly filled in and there is no inheritance tax, probate may only take three to five weeks. In other, more complicated circumstances, it may take much longer.
Can you take over an existing case?
Yes, in the vast majority of circumstances, we can take over an existing case. Whether you're dissatisfied with your current solicitor, feel as though your case is losing momentum, or simply want a change of direction, it's your right to change law firms, even if you're in the middle of it.
Why choose First4Lawyers?
We provide friendly, approachable personal legal services
We have won numerous awards for our work
We have a panel of expert solicitors who are specialists in personal law
We can get in touch at a time that's convenient for you
How to guides
How to apply for a Grant of Representation when someone dies
If you’re an executor of someone’s Will, you’ll need to apply for a Grant of Representation to access their estate. Read our simple guide on the steps to take.read more