Probate is the process of negotiating an individual’s assets after they have passed away. This can include settling debts they may have and/or distributing their estate and wealth in accordance with their wishes. Probate is a relevant course of action whether a will has or has not been written. However, not everyone will need it. If the assets are jointly owned by a spouse or partner, probate will not be needed as the capital will automatically pass over to the joint owner. Probate is only usually needed if the deceased owned property or had over £5,000 in the bank.
Who Needs to Apply for Probate?
If the deceased person left a will and appointed any executors, they will need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This is a document that legally allows the executors to administer the estate. Until this is granted, the deceased’s assets will be frozen. This is to prevent them from being distributed in a way which conflicts with what is stated in the will. If there is no will, the person’s next of kin will usually need to apply for Letters of Administration.
You can complete an application yourself or hire a consultant/specialist to deal with it for you. If the estate is small, doing it yourself is a good way to avoid extra charges. However, if the estate is over £50,000, it may be worth hiring a consultant. You should also bear in mind that probate can be a lengthy process. If you aren’t able to dedicate enough time to it, you may wish to hire a specialist. Whoever files the application is liable for it, so it is imperative to assure it is done correctly.
Firstly, it is important to note that probate fees can vary widely, especially based on whether you complete the process yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. While hiring a consultant will cost a lot more, it will make the process quicker and smoother. Without hiring a professional, taking on this responsibility may be especially challenging for someone who is grieving. A specialist will also be able to register you for probate for a flat rate of £155 whereas doing it yourself will cost you £215.
Probate services and solicitor’s prices will vary based on the extent of the service they are providing. There are a few different ways they may charge you for their services:
- An hourly rate – normally around £100-£250 per hour.
- A percentage of the estate value – normally 2-5%
- A fixed fee – based on a questionnaire.
These fees will usually be taken out of the inheritance after probate has been granted, so you shouldn’t need to provide the funds upfront. Unfortunately, legal aid is not something the government will provide for the process of probate.
How Long Does Probate Take?
The length of the probate process will mainly be determined by how complicated and extensive the person’s estate is. Provided there are no obstacles, applications should take 4-8 weeks using a probate service. Some things that can delay probate are:
- Questions over the validity of the will – this could be due to the will not being witnessed or not signed by the deceased.
- Disputes over the will – If someone feels they should have been named as a beneficiary in the will and have not been, they may raise a dispute.
- Missing beneficiaries – If one or more of the beneficiaries cannot be located.
- Inheritance Tax – This involves the HMRC and can cause delays from their end.
- Debts – Handling these can sometimes cause delays to the process.
Find out about more causes that could delay probate here.
Probate can seem like a daunting process, especially if you are dealing with the death of a loved one at the time. Luckily, there are many guides and resources at your disposal to help the process go as smoothly as possible. There are many ways of tackling probate, so you should be able to find a way that suits your individual needs. Whether you complete the process yourself or hire someone else to handle it for you, be sure to ask for any support you may need. Citizens Advice have a guide to probate which you can find here.
Before you make any decisions, we would recommend conducting thorough research and comparing quotes from multiple probate services and solicitors.
How Careline Can Help
We hope this guide has been helpful – you may also wish to read about the process of making a will.
Here at Careline365, our mission is to provide elderly people and their relatives with as much peace of mind and reassurance as we can. That’s why we publish articles like this every week on our blog.
In the meantime, we can offer added peace of mind for you or your elderly relative with one of our life saving personal alarms. To find out more about the Careline alarm service or place an order, call our friendly team today on 0800 101 3333. Alternatively, read our complete guide to the alarm service or order your Careline alarm online.