Do I Need a Solicitor to Apply for Probate?
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process where a deceased person’s will is ‘proved’ to the court. However, the term probate is more generally used to describe the process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died. A probate solicitor will aid in the responsibilities such as settling any debts and distributing the estate in accordance with the will.
If you are the named person in the will of someone who has passed away, you are the executor or administrator. This means you are responsible for dealing with the estate. The executor also may have to apply for probate. The probate is a legal document that gives the executor the authority to share out the estate of the person who has died according to the instructions on the Will. You do not always need probate to deal with the estate.
Do I Need Probate?
It is common for probate or letters of administration to be required to deal with the estate if it includes property such as a flat or a house or significant assets. The value where probate is required can vary between different banks and financial institutions. Therefore, some financial institutions may release £50,000 and others will not release more than £5,000.
Probate is not dependent on a will being in place as it is dependent on the specific situation. Our solicitors can help you if you are unsure whether or not probate is required.
Why You May Not Need Probate
Alternatively, you may not require probate for reasons such as:
- The estate is made up of cash (banknotes and coins) and personal assets such as cars, furniture, and jewelry
- All the property in the estate is owned as beneficial joint tenants. Therefore, the property automatically becomes wholly owned by the other owner
- You had a joint bank account (this amount can vary depending on the financial institution)
- The amount of money is small
- You discover that the estate is insolvent. For example, there is not enough money in the estate to pay all the debts, taxes, and expenses
- There are certain life insurance policies and pension benefits in the estate.
If you are ever unsure whether you need probate, get in contact with our wills and Probate team and they can assess you situation.
Can I Apply for a Grant Myself?
You can apply for a Grant of Representation on your own. There is no legal obligation to use a solicitor when applying for the grant. However, the process can prove difficult and requires a significant amount of paperwork. Therefore, you will need to be comfortable dealing with legal, tax, and other administrative work.
Usually, the most complex part of the process is the Inheritance Tax forms. Therefore, these must be completed, whether or not Inheritance Tax is payable. There are two different types of films that can be required, with one being simpler and the other complex. Many estates will require the more complex form to claim the benefit of the Residence Nil-Rate Band. Other reasons are that there have been lifetime gifts or there are foreign assets over a certain value. Some of these allowances need to be claimed within two years of the date of death. As a result, this can become problematic if you are unaware of this.
Inheritance tax needs to be paid before the Grant of Representation is issued. This can pose a difficulty for the executors or administrators because they may not have enough liquid capital to cover the liability.
What if the Deceased Did Not Leave a Will?
If there is no will, a close relative of the deceased can apply to deal with the estate at the Probate Registry. The legal document needed to deal with the estate is called the Letters of Administration. It gives the same authority to an individual as the Grant of Probate and allows for them to deal with matters of the estate. In this case, the individual that deals with the estate is called the ‘Administrator’.
If there are no family or friends to administer the estate a professional can be instructed. Once an Executor or Administrator has been appointed, the estate must be administered under the rules of intestacy. As the Personal Representative (meaning Executor or Administrator) they are liable for the correct distribution of the estate, making sure that the correct beneficiaries inherit.
Can a Solicitor Help Me Obtain the Grant of Probate?
Complete the Probate Application
Yes, an expert solicitor can help you to obtain the Grant of Probate.
The application includes completing a PA1P if there is a will, and a PA1A if there is no will. An Inheritance Tax (IHT) form may also need to be submitted to HMRC. You can pay the IHT on estates over £350,000 that are no being given to a spouse, civil partner, charity, or community amateur sports club. However, reporting may still be required if the estate is below this amount. A solicitor will help you put together the correct forms and understand what forms are required.
Submit the Application to the Probate Registry
Next, you will need to send all the details to the Probate Registry. You can apply for probate online if you have the original will, and death certificate, and have already reported the estate’s value. For applications made online, you will need to post your documents once submitting the forms.
What Documents Are Needed for Probate?
- The original Will and codicils (if applicable)
- The death certificate, or interim death certificate from the coroner
- The correct IHT form (if applicable)
Completing a ‘Statement of Truth’
You will be required to sign a ‘statement of truth’ during your online application. This will mean you promise that you have been truthful in your application for the Grant of Probate. A failure to complete the statement of truth or errors in the application could lead to delays, as the application may be rejected. Therefore, to avoid delays, a probate solicitor can help manage your forms, making sure they are correctly filled out to avoid issues.
Probate Application Time Scale
Once submitted, an application can take up to 8 weeks. Errors in the application can cause it to be rejected, making the process longer.
Do I Need a Solicitor to Apply for Probate?
Applying for probate can be a long and confusing process in the wake of a loved one passing away. The process can involve lots of paperwork, tax calculations, and legal expertise. As a result, errors can happen in the application which prolongs the process more than needed. Therefore it is recommended that a probate solicitor helps make your process easier.
Some of the tasks our legal experts can help with are:
- Applying for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration
- Identifying and collecting assets of the estate and identifying and paying any outstanding debts of the estate
- Helping you settle any tax position of the estate
- Communicating on your behalf to any beneficiaries and distributing according to the will
- If there is no will, our solicitors will help you distribute the estate according to the rules of intestacy
- Trusts Solicitors
- Inheritance Tax
- Estate Planning
We have more pages to help you understand how wills and probates work. Finally, if you have any questions or seek the legal expertise of our wills and probate team get in contact below.
All advice is correct at time of publication.