Probate Frequently Asked Questions
What is Probate?
In England and Wales, Probate is the legal process through which the assets (money, property, and possessions) of a deceased person’s estate are proven to be valid, and the appointed administrator and executor are proven to be legally entitled to do so.
It is a specialist legal process, which is carried out by an expert Wills and Probate solicitor. When the grant of probate is completed, the executor or administrator is then able to begin dealing with the assets in the estate.
The grant of probate is an official court document that essentially proves that the administrator or execute has the legal authority to handle the estate. From this point on, it is up to the appointed person to begin selling the property of the deceased, paying off their debts, and distributing the estate among beneficiaries, usually with the help of a specialist Wills and Probate solicitor to guide them through the complex process.
How much money before probate is required?
If the value of the deceased’s estate is less than £5000, then, generally speaking, Probate will not be required for the estate.
This is just an estimate, and the threshold for when probate is required can vary depending on the bank and financial organisation used by the deceased. Each has it's own regulations on how much money can be related without a grant of probate.
Further, if the deceased held property in their sole name or as Tenants in Common, probate will be required to transfer or sell the property.
If you are looking to decipher whether or not the estate that you are dealing with will need the assistance of a specialist Wills and Probate solicitor to apply for a grant of probate, then get in touch with MG Legal’s fully-qualified probate solicitors today, here.
Is a grant of probate always needed?
As is suggested above, there are certain situations when a grant of probate will not be required. One of the most common of these scenarios is when an estate is small in size, usually below the value of £5,000.
Still, there are certain situations in which a small estate may require a grant of probate. To learn more, contact our specialist probate solicitors, here, and speak to us the same working day.
Do I need grant of probate if there is a will?
One common misconception by our clients who use our will writing service is that if they make a will, their executors won’t need to apply for probate after they are gone. This is not the fact, and whether or not a will is in place is not the deciding factor in whether or not probate is required.
Instead, it is the overall value and size of the estate, and the requirements of the banks or financial institutions with which you hold your money and affairs.
Still, when you work with our specialist wills and probate solicitors, they have expert knowledge on all aspects of the processes involved, and can offer tailored advice on what the process may be for your specific estate, and how best to prepare for your loved ones to be able to handle your estate. To arrange a meeting with our specialist wills and probate solicitors, simply get in touch online, here, and hear back from an expert the same working day.
Do I need probate to sell a house?
If there is a house or property that is owned in the name of the deceased person, then you will need to obtain probate in order to sell the property. In order to obtain a grant of probate properly and prevent mistakes being made, simply contact our expert wills and probate solicitors today to see how we can help.
Is Life Insurance Subject to Probate?
Quite often, when a loved one dies, they will have a life insurance or assurance policy that needs to be dealt with. This policy could potentially pay out a significant sum of money. A common misconception is that the policy forms part of the deceased’s estate, and must be used towards the payment of testamentary expenses, liabilities and funeral costs, before being distributed to the beneficiaries under the deceased’s Will (or the rules of intestacy).
Generally, life insurance does not form part of the deceased’s estate, although this could well depend on how the policy was written. Typically, policies are written into trust so that, on the policy holder’s death, the proceeds are paid out to a named beneficiary or beneficiaries. When our expert Wills solicitors are taking instructions from our Will clients, we usually discuss with them whether they have an insurance policy and whether they are aware of how this pays out or any nominations in place. We suggest that, if they are not, they look into this to ensure that the policy can be easily dealt with on their death.
A common form of life insurance policy held by many homeowners, whose property is subject to a mortgage, is to cover the mortgage, in the event of their death before the loan is repaid. If this is the intention behind the policy, the proceeds of the policy may be used to cover any remaining loan, leaving a larger sum to be distributed to the beneficiaries (and, also, potentially a larger sum liable to Inheritance Tax). Any surplus proceeds of the policy once the mortgage has been repaid may either pay to the deceased’s estate, or to a named beneficiary.
If you are dealing with your loved one’s estate and you need to deal with a life insurance policy, you should speak to the policy provider to check how any proceeds should be used or distributed. Whether a Life Insurance policy forms part of a person’s estate can therefore depend on how the policy is written and you should therefore take steps to ascertain this as soon as possible in the process of administering your loved one’s estate. If you need any guidance on what steps you need to take, contact our expert Wills and Probate solicitors online, here.
Do all of the executors have to apply for probate?
Our probate solicitors would generally suggest appointing at least two Executors, and up to four. Alternatively, you could appoint one Executor, with replacements. This is because, if you only have one Executor, and they are then unable to act, and you have not named any replacement, this clause of your Will would fail, and someone that you have potentially not chosen would need to step in as the Executor.
If you decide to appoint four Executors, you may wonder whether they would all need to act: they do not. If one (or more) of the Executors do not want to act, the remaining Executor (or Executors) could apply for Probate with power reserved to the Executors who are not applying. This means that the other Executors who are not applying could act in the future, if they needed to, but they will not be making the application for now. The other way that an Executor could apply without the others, if the others are in agreement and do not want to act, would be for them to renounce their entitlement to act as an Executor. This requires a specific legal form to be signed, and the Executors who are renouncing cannot have already ‘intermeddled’ with the Estate.
Is probate the same across the UK?
As with most solicitors in the UK, our team at MG Legal cover legal matters throughout England and Wales. However, if you are based in Scotland or Ireland, you would need to seek independent legal advice from a lawyer who deals with Scottish and Irish law, as some of the processes and laws will not be the same as in England and Wales.
For example, in Scotland the process of applying for Probate in known as “confirmation”. You can find out more about confirmation on the Scottish Court’s website, here or by seeking advice from a Scottish Lawyer.
Do I need to use a solicitor to apply for probate?
Currently you do not need to be legally qualified to apply for Probate, and therefore if you do not wish to instruct a solicitor to assist you with the application, you do not have to.
However, there are a number of risks involved with this, and advantages of ensuring that you have an experienced legal professional to assist you with the application:
1. Making sure that the application is correct – understandably, many people will never have to complete an application for Probate in their entire lifetime. And for those that do have to, many would agree that it can be a difficult application to understand. It’s important that the deceased’s Estate is finalised properly and correctly, and therefore, it can be better to instruct a legal professional who has years of experience with drafting the applications, to prevent there from being issues which have to be corrected later down the line.
2. Less stress – again, many people who have dealt with the probate application themselves can confirm that, unfortunately, it can be a very stressful and lengthy process. By instructing an expert probate solicitor, you are reducing the stress that you will feel, and ensuring that you have expert knowledge and assistance throughout the application process.
3. Cheaper – The probate application fee is, in fact, cheaper for legal professionals, being £155. At MG Legal, we offer fixed legal fees for Probate applications, so that you know where you stand from the beginning of your matter. These legal fees can be deducted from the Estate, so the Executors are not expected to fund these themselves.
4. Preventing issues down the line – by instructing a solicitor at the start of the matter, who can assist you with the application for probate, you could prevent there from being any costly issues further down the line. For example, at MG Legal, we have previously been approached by clients who have submitted the application themselves for probate but have then faced an issue. Our team helped them to correct the issue, however, this incurred additional costs which would have been avoided had our expert team been involved from the start of the application.
How much does a probate solicitor cost?
Our expert Wills and Probate solicitors have over 14 years of experience in grant of probate applications, and are happy to complete them for our clients and a clear, fixed-fee rate. This fixed fee includes handling all of the documents involved, submitting them on your behalf, and simply forwarding the grant of probate to you when we get it back from the court. This takes all of the stress out of the process for you as our clients.
This service is offered for a reasonable price of £550.00 + VAT. For a full overview of our Wills and Probate fees, see this here.