Probate

If probate is not required we can advise you how to:

  • Arrange for Banks to release funds to pay the costs of the funeral.
  • Gain access to Bank accounts etc. when probate is not required.
  • Protect against fraudulent credit applications.
  • Stop junk mail addressed to the deceased.
  • Deal with family inheritance.
  • Trace assets such as bank accounts or insurance policies.
  • Trace missing relatives and beneficiaries of the estate.

If probate is required we can deal with matters on your behalf and for your peace of mind.

We offer a fixed fee service so you know exactly what the cost will be before you decide to instruct us. Most Solicitors still charge an hourly rate which can be in the region of £200 per hour for a senior Solicitor. The longer they spend on a matter and the more it drags out the higher their fees will be.

Do I need to apply for Probate?

When a person dies, someone has to deal with their affairs. This is called 'administering the estate'. Curtis Legal can help you with this.

If the deceased leaves a will

If the deceased leaves a will, it will usually name one or more people to act as the executors of the will - that is, to administer their estate. If you are named as an executor of a will you may need to apply for a grant of probate. A grant of probate is an official document which the executors may need to obtain to administer the estate. It is issued by as the probate registry.

If there is no will

If there is no will (known as dying intestate) the process is more complicated. An application for a grant of letters of administration will need to be made. The person to whom letters of administration is granted is known as the administrator. The administrator is the person who has the legal right to deal with the affairs of the deceased, and is determined by a set order of priority. The administrator will usually be a close relative of the deceased, if there is one. There may be more than one person who has an equal right to do this.

Do I need to apply for Probate?

A grant of representation is not always needed, for example, if the deceased: has le less than £5,000 in total; or owned everything jointly with someone else. However, some financial organisations may require a grant before giving you access even to a small amount of money. Usually, a grant of representation will be needed when the deceased le: more than £5000; stocks or shares; a house or land; or certain insurance policies.

How to get a grant

You can instruct a solicitor of your choice to apply for the grant of representation even if they are not the Solicitor named as Executor in the will, or you can apply for a grant yourself. If you apply yourself, you will have to go for an interview at the Probate registry and fill in an application form and a tax form. There is a fee for this.

Responsibilities of personal representatives

Personal representatives are responsible for making sure that the estate is administered correctly. If there is a will, the personal representative must make sure that the wishes of the deceased, as set out in their will, are followed. If there is no will, you must follow the rules of intestacy (set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925).

Inheritance tax

Personal representatives are also responsible for finding out if inheritance tax is due as a result of a person's death. If it is, the personal representative has to make sure that it is paid. Whether inheritance tax needs to be paid can depend on: how much the property and belongings of the deceased were worth when they died; the value of any gis that they gave before they died; the value of certain trusts from which the deceased benefited; or which people benefit under the will or under the rules of intestacy.

Likely time-scales

Dealing with the affairs of someone who has died can take a long time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year, perhaps longer if things are not straightforward. Many organisations may be involved in the process, for example, banks, building societies, insurance companies and HM Revenue & Customs. The estate cannot be concluded until all claims to it have been received. Individuals have six months from the date when probate was granted to make claims against the estate. Other things that may affect the time taken are: whether the financial affairs of the deceased were in order; what the deceased owned and where it is; whether the deceased had an interest in a business or a farm; what the will or the rules of intestacy say; whether there are any legal disputes (claims against the estate or claims by the estate); whether inheritance tax needs to be paid; and making sure that all HM Revenue & Customs files are closed and that matters relating to income tax, benefits agencies and pensions have been sorted out.

Costs

Charges can vary considerably between solicitors and so it is very important that you find out the costs involved before you instruct a Solicitor. Most Solicitors charge on an hourly basis and average fees for a senior Solicitor will be around £200 per hour. When Solicitors charge by the hour the longer they spend dealing with a matter the higher the fees will be and sometimes the final bill can come as a nasty surprise.

Curtis Legal are Specialist Solicitors and work on the basis of a fixed fee. We charge a very competitive fixed fee for the legal work regardless of the amount of work involved. We will provide you with a full estimate prior to starting work on your behalf.

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