Do I Need to Use Probate Solicitors or Can I Use Probate Experts Online?

Probate Solicitors

When someone dies, generally the executors or administrator of the deceased’s estate will need to apply for grant of probate in order to administer the estate.  Probate, however, is not always required if there is a living spouse or civil partner or the value of the estate is below a certain level.  But, in most cases, probate will be needed.  The question is, do you need to use specialist probate solicitors or can you use online probate solicitors?

https://www.probatesonline.co.uk/

Why probate?

In some cases, probate is required, sometimes it is not and in other cases, grant of letters of administration will be needed instead of probate.

Generally, if the value of the estate is in excess of £5,000, probate is required. 

When there is a will, the executor(s) appointed to administer the estate will apply for grant of probate.  The executor(s) can be a family member, a friend of the deceased or a solicitor.  However, if there is no will or the executor(s) resign from the role, the deceased’s next of kin or a close relative will need to apply for grant of letters of administration to administer the deceased’s estate, known as the administrator. 

Other circumstances where grant of letters of administration is required:

  • A beneficiary has been left the entire estate;
  • No executors have been named in the will;
  • The named executors are not prepared to accept the role and resign.

If the majority of the deceased’s assets are jointly owned with a spouse or civil partner, such as joint bank accounts or a joint mortgage, probate may not be required.  Cases where probate is not required include:

  • The estate is less than £10,000 in value and there are no shares or land within the estate.  If the estate is small, the bank or financial institution has the discretion to decide whether they need to see Grant of Probate in order to release the funds.
  • If any financial assets or property are owned jointly with a spouse or civil partner.

The probate threshold ranges from £5,000 to £50,000.  Banks and financial institutions have their own procedures regarding a deceased person’s assets; contact them as soon as possible.

When there is a will, an executor(s) will have been appointed to administer the estate and apply for grant of probate.  If there is no will or executor(s), the deceased’s next of kin or a relative will need to apply letters of administration to administer the deceased’s estate.   

Other circumstances when letters of administration are needed include:

  • You have been left the entire estate;
  • There are no executors named in the will;
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role.

Benefits of using probate solicitors

Whilst it is possible to handle probate of a deceased’s estate yourself via online probate services, sometimes the legal terminology and probate service can be complex and confusing if you don’t have a legal background. 

If the deceased’s estate is fairly simple and they left a detailed will setting out their wishes, as well as how the estate was to be distributed, then handling the probate process online should be pain-free.  However, if the deceased’s estate large and complex, or other factors that may make the probate process complicated, using a probate solicitor may be the best option.

Situations where probate cases are more complex and it is probably better to enlist the services of a probate solicitor include:

  • If there is a dispute about the will or questions on whether it is valid;
  • Where a beneficiary that may have been left out of a will deliberately by the deceased and they want to make a claim;
  • Where assets may be held in a trust or the will states that a trust must be created;
  • Where the estate is insolvent or bankrupt;
  • The deceased either lived abroad or died abroad; and
  • The estate includes property or assets that are foreign to the UK.

In these situations, a specialist probate solicitor will have the knowledge and expertise to be able to advise and administer the deceased’s estate.  In addition, by using a probate solicitor you will pay a reduced probate application fee, which currently stands at £155.

Benefits of using online probate solicitors

Using online probate solicitors does not mean you are not getting professional advice and service.  You will still be talking to a legal professional that specialises in probate.  The essential differences between an online service and a physical service are:

  • Generally, the solicitor’s fees will be cheaper as there are fewer overheads for them to cover, making the use of their services far more affordable.
  • They are more readily available 24/7 as your queries are presented online to a pool of online probate solicitors.
  • There is no requirement for face-to-face meetings – all communication is carried out via email and/or telephone.

Online probate solicitors are registered in the same way as non-online solicitors and have to abide by the same rules.  They are more than capable of handling uncontentious wills and subsequent probate applications.  However, you may find that when it comes to complex probate cases or estates where the deceased did not have a will, an online probate solicitor service may not be able to help you as effectively. 

Now that it is mandatory for all probate applications to be submitted online, whether a solicitor is applying for grant of probate or the executor(s)/administrator, it is not always necessary to go through non-online solicitors.  However, with that said, if the deceased’s estate is large and complex, or any of the above situations apply, a non-online probate solicitor may be in a better position to administer the estate and deal with the complex issues on your behalf. 

At Probates Online, we are able to offer a professional probate service online that is efficient and affordable.  If you are an executor of a will and need to apply for Grant of Probate or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

What Is Probate and Where Do I Start?

start with probate


Have you heard the term ‘probate’ but aren’t sure what it really means?  Are you an executor of a will or have a relative passed away and you’re not sure where to start with probate?  Don’t worry, you are not alone; we’re here to help clarify what probate is and how to manage it.

Probate is essentially the legal process that any deceased person’s estate has to go through, whether there is a will or not.  But how long does probate take?  Well, that depends on a number of factors.  Firstly, the size of the deceased’s estate and secondly, whether the deceased has left a will that details his wishes, particularly in terms of who inherits what part of the estate.

One final factor to take into consideration is how long the probate service takes and currently, the average time to wait for Grant of Probate – the authority given to beneficiaries to proceed with administering the estate – is about five weeks.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process by which an estate is divided after someone has died.  The process includes any financial and physical assets, such as property, and how it is distributed to the beneficiaries. 

Generally, if there is a will whereby the deceased has detailed who is going to inherit what in terms of money, property, or any other assets, the probate process can take up to 12 months to complete.  However, if there isn’t a will in place, probate can take much longer.  What will delay the process, even more, is if there are any disputes between the beneficiaries or over the administration of the estate, which is known as contentious probate

However, there are cases where probate is not required:

  • If the estate is worth less than £10,000 and there are no shares or land as part of the estate.  If the estate is particularly small and there is only a token amount in a bank account, the bank has the discretion as to whether they need Grant of Probate to release the funds.
  • If any money, i.e. bank accounts, or property are owned jointly with a spouse or civil partner.

In reality, the threshold for probate ranges from £5,000 to £50,000.  Each bank or financial institution has its own policies regarding a deceased person’s assets.

If there is a will, an executor will have been appointed to administer the estate and apply for a Grant of Probate.  The executor can be a family member, a friend of the deceased, or the solicitor that holds the will.  If there is no will or executor, someone representing the deceased will need to apply the authority needed to administer the deceased’s estate.  This is usually the next of kin and they will need to apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’ from the court. 

There are other circumstances where letters of administration are required:

  • You have been left the entire estate;
  • There are no executors named in the will;
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role.

Only the executor of the estate can apply for a Grant of Probate.  If there is no executor of the estate, next of kin or a close relative has to apply for letters of administration in order to handle the deceased’s estate; they are known as the administrator of the estate, not executor. 

Where do I start to apply for probate?

Once the death has been registered (which is within five days), you should apply for probate within six months of the death.  This is not because there is a time limit on applying for probate.  It is because there is a time limit on paying HMRC any Inheritance Tax that may be applicable.  In practice, reporting the estate’s value to HMRC and applying for probate is usually done at the same time as both are needed to finalise the estate.

Whether there is a will or not, the probate process is similar.  The first step is to find out the value of the estate, such as money in the bank, the deceased’s belongings, and any property held in the deceased’s name (even if it is joint names, the value still needs to be ascertained).  You will need to consider:

  • Bank accounts, pension funds and any other financial assets, such as mortgage on a property, savings and life assurance policies.
  • Any property, whether in joint names or not, will need to be valued by a local estate agent.  It is always worth getting three to four valuations.
  • Any outstanding debts, such as utilities, mortgage payments, credit cards, loans or any other monies owed by the deceased.
  • Any gifts the deceased made that are above the official allowance within the previous seven years (not including Christmas, birthday or anniversary gifts) – they may be subject to Inheritance Tax.

In most cases, you will need a copy of the death certificate and/or will to send to the relevant organisations. 

Once you have this information, it will need to be reported to HMRC who will work out if any Inheritance Tax is due.  This will also tell you if you need to apply for probate or letters of administration.  This process can take several months and a response from HMRC may take even longer.  However, once you have the valuations, have spoken to the banks and/or financial institutions, and assessed debts and gifts, you can apply for a Grant of Probate.

Applying for probate can either be done through a solicitor, often the solicitor that holds the deceased’s will or a family solicitor, or you can file for probate yourself online.  If there is a will, you will need the following to apply for probate:

  • An official copy of the death certificate (if applying online, this will be a scanned image);
  • The original will;
  • The application fee.

One point to note is that you can only apply for probate online if:

  • All the named executors are alive and able to make decisions; and
  • The deceased spent most of their life in England and Wales.

If there is no will, the next of kin or a close relative of the deceased will need to apply for letters of administration which you can do yourself via post using the form PA1A, which is a probate application form.  You can download the forms from an online probate service or from a probate registry near you. 

At Probates Online, we are able to offer a professional probate service online that is efficient and affordable.  If you are an Executor of a will and need to apply for a Grant of Probate or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

When Do I Need Probate?

probate

 

There is an overriding question when someone dies; do I need probate? Determining if probate is needed or not can be difficult to ascertain.  Sometimes it’s down to whether there is a will or not, sometimes it’s down to joint-named assets and bank accounts, and sometimes it’s the value of the entire estate that determines the outcome.  Let’s look into this in more detail. 

What is probate? 

Before we discuss whether probate is needed or not, let’s just clarify exactly what probate is and what it means.  Probate is the legal process by which a deceased’s estate is distributed among beneficiaries after someone has died.  The process includes all financial and physical assets, such as property, belongings and monies. 

There are various situations where probate is absolutely required, some where it is not  and some circumstances when letters or administration need to be applied for instead of probate. 

When is probate necessary? 

Generally, if the value of a deceased’s estate is in excess of £5,000, probate is required.   

When there is a will, the executor appointed to manage the estate will apply for probate.  The executor can be a family member, a friend of the deceased or a solicitor.  However, if there is no will or executor, a next of kin or a member of the family representing the deceased will have to apply for letters of administration, which is the authority needed to administer the deceased’s estate.  They will then be known as the administrator.   

There are other circumstances where letters of administration are required: 

  • You have been left the entire estate; 
  • There are no executors named in the will; 
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role. 

Only an executor of the estate can apply for probate.  If there is no executor, the next of kin or a close relative has to apply for grant of letters of administration in order to manage the deceased’s estate. 

When is probate not necessary? 

Generally, if the majority of the deceased’s assets are jointly owned with the spouse or civil partner, such as joint bank accounts or a mortgage, probate may not be required.  However, there are cases where probate is not required: 

  • If the estate is worth less than £10,000 and there are no shares or land as part of the estate.  If the estate is particularly small and there is only a token amount in a bank account, the bank has the discretion as to whether they need Grant of Probate to release the funds. 
  • If any money, i.e. bank accounts, or property are owned jointly with a spouse or civil partner. 

The threshold for probate ranges from £5,000 to £50,000.  The banks or financial institutions have their own policies regarding a deceased person’s assets so, it’s important to contact them as soon as possible. 

When there is a will, an executor has been appointed to manage the estate and apply for probate.  The executor can be a family member, a friend of the deceased or a solicitor that has the will.  If there is no will or executor, someone representing the deceased will have to apply for the authority from the court to manage the deceased’s estate.  This is usually the next of kin; they will have to apply for letters of administration.   

Other circumstances when letters of administration are required: 

  • You have been left the entire estate; 
  • There are no executors named in the will; 
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role. 

Applying for probate 

Once the death has been registered (which is within five days), you should apply for probate within six months of the death.  This is not because there is a time limit on applying for probate.  It is because there is a time limit on paying HMRC any Inheritance Tax that may be applicable.  In practice, reporting the estate’s value to HMRC and applying for probate is usually done at the same time as both are needed to finalise the estate. 

Whether there is a will or not, the probate process is similar.  The first step is to find out the value of the estate, such as money in the bank, the deceased’s belongings and any property held in the deceased’s name (even if it is joint names, the value still needs to be ascertained).  You will need to consider: 

  • Bank accounts, pension funds and any other financial assets, such as mortgage on a property, savings and life assurance policies 
  • Any property, whether in joint names or not, will need to be valued by a local estate agent.  It is always worth getting three to four valuations. 
  • Any outstanding debts, such as utilities, mortgage payments, credit cards, loans or any other monies owed by the deceased 
  • Any gifts the deceased made that are above the official allowance within the previous seven years (not including Christmas, birthday or anniversary gifts) – they may be subject to Inheritance Tax. 

In most cases, you will need a copy of the death certificate and/or will be sent to the relevant organisations.   

Applying for probate can either be done through a solicitor, often the solicitor that holds the deceased’s will or a family solicitor, or you can file for probate yourself online.  If there is a will, you will need the following to apply for probate: 

  • An official copy of the death certificate (if applying online, this will be a scanned image); 
  • The original will; 
  • The application fee. 

One thing to note is that you can only apply for probate online if: 

  • All the named executors are alive and able to make decisions; and 
  • The deceased spent most of their life in England and Wales. 

If there is no will, the next of kin or a close relative of the deceased will need to apply for letters of administration which you can do yourself via post using the form PA1A, which is a probate application form.  You can download the forms from an online probate service or from a probate registry near you.   

At Probates Online, we are able to offer a professional probate service online that is efficient and affordable.  If you are an Executor of a will and need to apply for a Grant of Probate or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.