Common Legal Questions: Applying for Probate
Posted on 6th December 2019
Our team of local Probate solicitors have recently written about the difference between a Grant of Probate, and Letters of Administration, but a common question that we’re asked, is who is entitled to apply for letters of administration?
Generally, the person entitled to deal with their loved one’s estate, is the same as whoever is entitled to inherit that estate. To find out who is entitled to inherit from an estate, you can read our blog, here.
Another common question our probate solicitors are asked, is do I actually need to use a solicitor to apply for a grant of probate or letters of administration?
Well, obviously, as probate solicitors, our jobs wouldn’t exist if people didn’t require our help to deal with an estate! However, objectively, it’s not necessary to use a solicitor to apply for probate, although most executors or administrators would probably warn you against it once they have been through the process themselves.
Applying for probate, either a grant of probate or letters of administration, can be a complicated, long process for some estates, and as your probate experts, our team are equipped to dealing with the probate registry and the application process. Not only that, but our team are here to ensure that you do not submit the wrong information which, in some cases, could lead to you being penalised!
Do I have to act if I am named as executor in a Will?
Some executors may find themselves at a time in their lives where they are either unable to act (perhaps due to work commitments, living too far away to deal with the affairs, or being unwell) or unwilling (maybe you didn’t know the deceased that well, and feel like you don’t want the responsibility). If you can’t act, the simple fact is that you don’t have to. Executors can either renounce, which a legal document which has to be signed and witnessed, stating that you do not want to act and that you did not interfere with the estate of the deceased, or they can appoint an Attorney to deal with matters on their behalf.
How many executors can I have?
On a grant of probate, up to four executors can be named. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that our probate solicitors would suggest appointing that many! In our probate team’s experience, having four executors to deal with can sometimes complicate matters, as all four have to agree to dealing with things in a certain way. In some cases, four executors who are not related might work together really well, however siblings can sometimes not get along, causing the estate administration to take longer than necessary to deal with. If you’re thinking of appointing four executors, make sure to consult our specialist local solicitors for Wills to ensure that you are doing what is, ultimately, right for you.
When do I need to apply for probate?
Some small estates, such as those where there is only one bank account or next-to-no assets, may not require probate. Unfortunately, as probate solicitors, we don’t determine who has to apply for probate. Most organisations have their own requirements, which you will need to enquire about with them directly, or our probate team can do this on your behalf. However, as a general rule of thumb, if you have more than £5,000.00, in stocks or shares, a property or land to transfer or sell, or a large insurance policy, you will probably require probate to finalise your loved one’s estate.
What will applying for probate cost?
If the value of the estate is under £5,000.00, normally no fee is charged by the probate registry. If the estate is over this amount, the fee for applying yourself is £215.00, whereas the fee for a solicitor to apply is £155.00 (as of October 2019), thereby giving a saving of £60.00.
Obviously, if you deal with the probate application yourself, there will be no legal fees to pay for. It is worth bearing in mind, though, that the time that you will have to spend dealing with the process can sometimes negatively outweigh the benefits of paying your local probate solicitor’s fixed legal fees! Our probate solicitors’ fees for dealing with the application are currently fixed at just £500.00 plus VAT, plus the probate registry fee (which is a disbursement, and not part of our legal fees).
It’s worth pointing out as well that, as executor, you will be entitled to pay the legal fees and the probate application fee, out of the estate funds, even if you have to pay this out initially yourself, and then claim this back!
If there is additional work to do, such as collecting in funds, closing accounts, selling or transferring a property or distributing the estate, our probate team will charge additional fees, but they will always give you an estimate of this before your matter starts!
I want to contest a Will, how can I stop probate?
Well, you can place something called a ‘caveat’ against the estate, which will stop probate being applied for, whilst any dispute is finished. The cost of applying for this with the Court is £20.00, but it is always recommended to consult a local solicitor before making this application, as you will need to try and resolve matters within six months, before the caveat ends (although, you can apply to enter another caveat).
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