Probate Solicitors LondonProbate from only £800
‘Probate’ is a quite complicated term. It means both an actual certificate, a Grant of Representation, that allows a deceased person’s estate to be divided between the beneficiaries and also the process of doing so. ‘Going through Probate’ is when you are undertaking the administrative tasks that are required to tie up all the loose ends of an estate and finally settle which assets go to which beneficiaries. Probate can be quite complicated, as there are many things that can affect the process; did the deceased person leave a will or not? How large was the estate that they left? What is the current situation of the beneficiaries? All of these things can affect the process of your probate.
Applying for the grant of probate and organising the affairs yourself can be very overwhelming during a time of bereavement. There is a heavily administrative side to dealing with probate, and it will be your responsibility to ensure that any outstanding debts are discovered and paid off, that the estate is distributed as set out in the Will and that correct Inheritance Tax is paid. During such a difficult time, it can feel like a very big mountain to climb alone, which is why it is advisable to turn to an experienced third party.
More on our Probate services
On the death of a loved one, their estate (money, property and possessions) must be dealt with. Assets need to be collected in, debts (and if required taxes) must be paid and then the remainder is distributed to those entitled to it. This process is called “administering the estate“.
If the deceased made a Will
The deceased nominates an ‘executor’ in their Will to administer their estate. An executor should apply for a ‘grant of probate’ from the probate registry which confirms that they have the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate and allows them to access funds, sell assets and ensure that the terms of the Will are carried out.
If the deceased died without a Will
If the deceased died without making a Will, they have died ‘intestate.’ A close relative or connection can apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’ which confirms that the administrator has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets. The Administration of Estates Act 1925 sets out who can apply for the grant of letters of administration and deal with the affairs of a person who has died intestate.
Getting a Will made will ensure that your estate goes to the person you would like to leave it to.
Single Will: £200*
Mirror Will: £350*
Fees exclusive of VAT and disbursements
*provided simple and straightforward
Lasting Power of Attorney
Property and Finance (Single): £375
Health and Welfare (Single): £375
If both: £600
Our wills and probate lawyers
Shirin carries out a broad range of private client work which include the preparation of Wills for high net-worth individuals, administration of multi-jurisdictional estates and powers of attorney.
As the Head of Private Clients, Ian has over 10 years’ experience in wills and probate legal matters and has worked with a wide range of individuals to help them through their requirements.
Contact us for free probate advice!
Common Wills & Probate Questions
What happens if I don't write a Will?
Have you ever seen Heir Hunters? It’s all about what happens to people’s wealth if they haven’t written a Will. Control is relinquished into the hands of the court and the government will choose where best to redistribute your wealth. It could go to very distant family members you’ve never heard of or met, or it could end up back in the Crown’s and government’s own coffers.
Recent research has shown that over half of the people in UK have not made a will. In fact, the Times has reported that the value of estates belonging to people who died without a Will or heirs has almost doubled in 12 months. In 2012, the Treasury and the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster had benefited to the tune of £38.5 million. This is money that, had a Will been drawn up, may have benefited family members or friends instead.
Can I change my Will?
Absolutely! Many people have a change of circumstance over their lives and will need to make a change to their Will. This could be adding new assets to your Will, changing your beneficiaries or any other other wishes you might have. You can contact us for further advice to begin changing your Will.
But I've lived with my partner for years. Why do I need a Will?
Unfortunately, the UK has no provision for ‘Common Law Husband and Wife’. This means that unmarried couples are not recognised as conjoined in the eyes of the law. If one partner dies without leaving a Will, then the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything unless they jointly owned property together. As an unmarried couple, it’s very import than you draw up the proper Wills to make sure that your surviving partners can inherit from you.
But I don't have a partner or any children. Why do I need a will?
Wills are not just for the elderly. If you have no partner or children and you don’t write a Will, then your wealth will be redistributed back to your parents. Whilst this might be agreeable to most, there are some unhappy circumstances where this might, in fact, not be to your liking. Say for example you were estranged from one of your parents at birth. You might not feel it is right to automatically redistribute wealth equally between two parents. If no one can be found, then according the laws of intestacy, your wealth could ultimately be redistributed to the Crown or Treasury. Or, in happier circumstances, you might wish to leave parts of your estate to charities or friends. Having a proper Will drawn up will enable you to do this.
What are powers of attorney?
Lasting powers of attorney are rights given by you, to someone else to make decisions on your behalf if you become impaired in some way and unable to make decisions yourself. This could be decisions about your finances or your care in the future. A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is something we hope you’ll never need to use, but if you ever do come to need it then it is utterly invaluable. There are a number of very sad cases, where people have regretted not granting or being granted an LPA. For example, the tragic case of Heather Bateman. Heather and her husband had been married for years, had both written Wills and both had their names on the deeds to their house. When her husband was hit by a car and fell into a coma, she needed access to his funds in order to continue to support her family. Yet, as her husband Michael had never granted her LPA, Heather had an enormously expensive, 3 year legal battle during an incredibly challenging time.
It’s never nice to plan for the worst but organising Lasting Powers of Attorney can protect you and your loved ones from extortionate bills and lots of bureaucratic heartache should the time ever come where you might need to use it. We can help you to put together a Lasting Power of Attorney. Please contact us for more information.
Do I have to leave lump sums of my assets?
No. If you do not wish to leave a lump sum to your beneficiary, you can leave a trust fund instead. Trust funds are often left to people who are under 18, but you can leave a trust fund according to various kinds of circumstances. A trust fund can either pay out when the beneficiary reaches a certain age, or it can pay out an allowance until the fund is depleted. There are various stipulations you can request, if you wish. Perhaps you’d only like the money to be used for education, or the purchase of a first home. As it’s your money, you can decide the circumstances under which it will be given.
Can you dispute a will?
Partially. There are occasions where a Will can be disputed. For example, if you think the person who wrote the Will was coerced at the time or writing, or not of sound mind. If you are serious about disputing a Will, we suggest you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
How much does going through Probate cost?
The cost of Probate can really vary and is entirely dependent on your personal situation. If you have a very complicated family, the estate is very large or there are complications with the beneficiaries then the cost will be larger than for a simpler Probate application. Do feel free to get in contact with us directly. Once we have understood your personal situation it will be much easier for us to give you an estimation of the costs.
What are the stages of Probate?
Loosely speaking, there are three main stages of Probate. The first is investigating the estate and checking how big is it, what has been left, and if there any outstanding debts to be paid. Even seemingly insignificant assets need to be checked. The second stage is completing tax returns, working out tax relief and applying for the Grant of Representation. The forms to complete will depend on the circumstances of the estate. The final stage is collected the assets, paying any outstanding debts and distributed the estate between the beneficiaries.
But I've got a Will, why do I need probate?
A Will sets out someone’s legal wishes for their estate after their death. Probate is what allows beneficiaries to access the estate that has been left to them. However, there are a few occasions where you would not need a grant. For example, if the estate is less than £5,000, or only includes cash funds, you do not normally need a grant. If all property in the is owned by beneficial joint However, where the estate includes other assets, like property, land or shares, then you will normally need to obtain a grant.
No Will has been left. Do I still need to go through Probate?
When no will has been left, you will need to apply for Letters of Administration rather than a Grant of Representation, though the term ‘probate’ is still sometimes used to refer to Letters of Administration, as it will function in the same way as a Grant of Representation; it will give you the ability break up and distribute the estate that has been left.
What about inheritance tax?
The responsibility of working out tax returns, tax relief, allowable deductions and working out the correct amount of Inheritance Tax due is one of the responsibilities of the executors. However, the myriad of forms can be quite complicated, so we are on hand to help you complete the Grant of Representation and to make the process easier for you. Though we are not accountants, we can also advise you to some degree on Inheritance Tax planning. We can also assist in helping to sell the estate once Probate has been granted.