Probate & Estate Administration
Probate is the name given to the process of winding up someone’s estate after their death, either in accordance to their Will (if they made one) or intestacy laws (if they didn’t).
In some cases, this process can be completed in a couple of months. In others, it could take years. It’s important to remember that when a solicitor winds up an estate, they are essentially working to close down that person’s life. This includes concluding all of their professional and financial affairs, which understandably can take time. The question of how long you will have to wait before receiving an inheritance very much depends on the complexity of the estate and what type of beneficiary you are.
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Administration of an Estate
If you have been appointed as the executor of somebody’s Will, you will be responsible for administering their estate. This winding up process generally has three main steps:
- Sorting through the person’s finances, possessions and property to determine the value of their estate
- Paying any outstanding bills or debts with the balance of the estate
- Distributing whatever remains of the estate in accordance with the person’s Will. If the person didn’t leave a Will, this will need to be done in accordance with the law.
In many cases, you will need to be issued with a Grant of Probate in order to show you have the authority to do these things.
Financial institutions such as banks, building societies and mortgage companies will need to see this document before they are able to deal with the accounts of the person who has died.
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Do you need to apply for probate?
A Grant of Probate isn’t always necessary. Some financial institutions will allow you to access the accounts of the person who has died without one. This is usually when the balance of the accounts in question is below a certain amount (usually £15,000 – £25,000).
To find out if you need to apply for a Grant of Probate, speak to the financial institutions where the person who has died held accounts.
However, if the estate you are administrating is worth more than £15,000 – £25,000 or contains property, it’s likely that you will need to be granted probate. If you are unsure please get in touch.
What information will I need to provide to the solicitor?
We’ll need as much information as possible about the person who died and their financial affairs. This includes their personal details such as:
- The death Certificate
- The original Will (if there is one)
- Their National Insurance number
You’ll also need to provide us with as much information as you can about the bank accounts, assets, income and debts of the person who has died. This will allow us to get a full picture of the extent of the estate and the work that needs to be done before we can begin administering it.
Depending on the circumstances, you may not know all the relevant details. In these cases, we’ll work with you to investigate further. However, it’s really important that you pass on any relevant information you do have, as failing to do this could have serious legal consequences.
Are you involved in a disagreement with an inheritance or estate?
Probate becomes contentious when one or more parties is unhappy with the Will or their inheritance. In these cases, no pay outs can be made from the estate until the dispute is resolved.
If resolution is reached through mediation, this may only take a few months. However, if one or more of the involved parties chooses to go to court over the matter, you will be looking at a delay of a year or longer. It’s also important to note that it costs a significant sum of money to take a case to court. These legal fees could end up being paid from the estate.
Being involved in a dispute about an estate can be difficult and stressful. We can help you to navigate this process; please don’t hesitate to enlist our support.
Talk to our team for estate administration support
Our team will be able to help you navigate the application process and ensure all bases are covered. This includes completing forms correctly, submitting applications, addressing inheritance tax concerns and co-ordinating with other public and professional bodies.
Download our free guide
Our free guide explains in plain English all of your legal rights and responsibilities following the death of a close family member or loved one.
Probate Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that this can be a complicated and confusing time. This is why we’ve put together these Probate FAQs to help you know what to expect.
Probate & Estate Administration Charges
For much of the work we undertake here at Roche Legal, we can offer a fixed fee. For non-fixed fee work, we charge based on our time spent on your matter in accordance with our hourly rates applicable at the time.
Need further assistance?
Though it is possible to apply for probate yourself, the process can be complicated. Many people choose to do this with the support of a solicitor.