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

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?

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.