The probate process often raises several common questions from our clients. We have answered some of the most frequently asked questions for you below.
[It is important to note that the answers provided here are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.]
If you require specific legal guidance on any aspect of probate, please feel free to contact our dedicated team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions about the probate process:
What is probate?
Probate refers to the legal process of managing someone's estate after they have passed away. This involves various steps such as taking control of the estate, settling any inheritance tax liabilities, and distributing assets according to the terms of the Will or the rules of intestacy if there is no will.
- Conduct a comprehensive valuation of the estate, which includes assessing the value of properties and valuable items while deducting any outstanding debts.
- Settle any inheritance tax obligations with HMRC.
- Apply for the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration to gain control of the estate.
- Sell any assets from the estate that need to be disposed of, including property.
- Pay off any debts owed by the deceased such as energy bills and loans.
- Prepare estate accounts, detailing expenses, taxes paid, and remaining balance.
- Distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries mentioned in the Will or determined by the intestacy rules.
How much does probate cost?
At Moore & Tibbits, we believe in transparency regarding our costs. We offer fixed costs for simpler cases, such as assistance in probate court applications. For more complex estates, we provide an estimate of the required hours and associated expenses. Visit our pricing page at https://www.qualitysolicitors.com/moore-tibbits/probate-pricing for further details.
Do you need a solicitor for probate?
No, you don't necessarily need a solicitor for probate. However, we highly recommend using a solicitor for several reasons:
- Our team has extensive experience in the probate process, ensuring that every detail is taken care of and nothing is overlooked, giving you peace of mind.
- Executors can be held liable for any mistakes made during probate. By using a solicitor, you can protect yourself from any legal consequences if someone challenges the way the probate was handled.
- A solicitor can keep the probate process on track, avoiding unnecessary errors or delays that could cause problems.
- A solicitor can make sure that Inheritance Tax is minimised by ensuring that all available allowances are applied for.
- Handling probate can be complex and intimidating, especially during a difficult time. A solicitor can take charge of the process, making your life easier and allowing you to focus on grieving and supporting your loved ones.
Do you need probate for a small estate?
If the estate is valued at less than £5,000 or if the deceased has left their entire estate to their spouse or civil partner, you may not need to go through probate. However, it's always a good idea to consult an experienced probate lawyer to ensure there are no potential legal complications.
How long does probate take?
This depends very much on how complex the estate is. In many cases probate can be completed in about 6-12 months but if there is a property to be sold and other complex financial matters to take into account, probate could take significantly longer.
Is there a time limit for probate?
Whilst there isn’t a specific time limit for completing the probate process, there is a deadline in relation to inheritance tax. Inheritance Tax typically needs to be paid within 6 months of the date of death although it is possible to pay Inheritance Tax by instalments for property assets. It is important to remember that interest can be charged on a late payment.
How long does grant of probate take once the forms are submitted?
It is currently taking approximately a month for the Probate Registry to acknowledge applications. It can then take a further 4 – 6 months for the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration to be produced.
What are the duties of an Executor?
The Executor is responsible for the entire probate process which includes:
- Obtaining Grant of Probate
- Collecting the assets included in the estate
- Valuing the entire estate
- Paying any Inheritance Tax (IHT) owed
- Settling any outstanding debts on the estate
- Distributing the assets from the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will.
How do I apply for a grant of probate?
Once you have valued the estate and completed any necessary Inheritance Tax accounts for HMRC, you can submit your application to the Probate Registry. This is mainly done online unless it is an unusual case in which case a paper application may be required. You will also need to submit the original Will together with a Legal Statement signed by the Executors.
The usual application fee is £273 and £1.50 per copy of the Grant of Probate that is required.
What happens to debts owed by the deceased?
It is important to determine whether the debts were joint or in the deceased’s name only. Liability for joint debts may pass to the other debtor and you need to inform any creditor of the deceased’s death. It may be that the deceased had insurance which will cover debts. It is advisable to publish a 'statutory notice for creditors' in the press, allowing a 2-month period for potential claims. Failure to do so could result in personal responsibility for any claims that arise later, whereas placing the notice shifts future claims to the beneficiaries. After probate is granted, debts should be organised for payment, with secured debts like mortgages taking priority, followed by funeral costs and unsecured debts such as credit cards and bills. The remaining estate assets are distributed to the beneficiaries after all debts are settled. If the estate's value is insufficient to cover the debts, it is considered insolvent and specialist advice must be sought.
How long does it take to get an inheritance?
The time it takes to receive an inheritance depends on various factors, particularly if a property needs to be sold. Typically, it should take around 9 -12 months to receive inheritance, although complex estates may require significantly more time.
What do I do about probate if the deceased has not left a Will?
If the deceased did not leave a Will, it is known as dying “intestate”. In this case, you will need to apply for Letters of Administration to gain control of their estate and proceed with the administration. The process for intestate estates is similar to when there is a will, except that inheritance is defined by the law rather than the deceased's wishes. To determine who will inherit in the absence of a will, you can refer to our quick answer flowchart accessible at this link https://www.qualitysolicitors.com/moore-tibbits/assets/1g9xheew8oqgw/1391intestancyflowchart.pdf
At Moore & Tibbits, Shona Newman specialises in intestate estates and family tracing. Shona conducts research on family history and collaborates with agents to identify rightful beneficiaries by applying the intestacy rules to the deceased person's family tree. One of Shona's notable cases involved 80 beneficiaries spread across three different countries!
What shall I do if the beneficiary of items in a Will has died?
In many cases if a beneficiary has died before the person who created the will, their share of the inheritance will be divided amongst the other beneficiaries. However, this is not always the case, and it is essential you seek legal advice from an experienced probate solicitor. If a beneficiary dies during the estate administration, then usually as they survived the original testator, the deceased beneficiary’s estate will still be entitled to the inheritance.
Our probate solicitors in Warwick are here to support you throughout the entire process, allowing you to focus on the grieving period. Losing a loved one can be incredibly challenging and we aim to make navigating probate as easy and stress free as possible.
Our comprehensive services range from obtaining the Grant of Probate to administering the estate. We can assist in identifying and notifying beneficiaries, facilitating property transfers or sales, coordinating with banks, building societies, pension providers, and utility companies, as well as handling a debt settlement.
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, our compassionate and dedicated probate team is available to lend a helping hand. Please feel free to contact us at 01926 354704 or via email at email@example.com.