When someone passes away, it is a very challenging and difficult time for those who knew them personally.
Bailey & Cogger Solicitors is fully aware that if you are a family member or friend responsible for dealing with the deceased person’s affairs, you will have lots of questions and concerns. We hope that, below, we are able to answer some of your questions about the process of probate.
Probate is a special legal process whereby an individual obtains legal authority or permission to share out the person’s assets, including property, savings and investments.
You might need to apply for a Grant of Probate if someone names you as their executor. This is a legal document that enables you to distribute the deceased person's assets in accordance with the instructions in the will. It’s not always necessary to apply for probate in order to deal with the person’s estate.
How long the probate process will take depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the estate and how complicated it is. In England and Wales, the average time for a Grant of Probate to be obtained, and the estate administration to be completed, is nine to twelve months.
This can be a long and stressful process to go through. As one of the most experienced probate solicitors in Tonbridge, Bailey & Cogger Solicitors is ideally placed to answer all of your questions about how long probate takes, how long obtaining Grant of Probate normally takes, and help with any concerns and issues you may have.
Whilst there is no exact answer as to how long probate takes, with an experienced and knowledgeable solicitor, the process can often be handled more quickly and efficiently.
How does probate work?
The probate process can be quite long in duration, and stressful for those involved.
The first step to take after someone passes away in the UK is to register the death, which must be done within five days. Establishing whether the deceased gave any instructions, such as requests for burial, cremation, or organ donation, is also crucial when making funeral preparations and arrangements.
If the person left a Will, it will specify who they wanted to handle their estate's administration. This individual is known as the executor, and it is the executor of the will who will need to apply for probate.
After probate has been granted, the deceased's property, money, and possessions are organised and distributed once inheritance tax, capital gains tax, and any debts have been paid.
When is probate required?
In England and Wales, probate is typically required when the deceased owned significant assets and property in their sole name. It is possible that probate will be required if a bank or other financial institution has requested a Grant of Probate (when there is a will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (also known as a Grant of Representation) when there isn’t a Will.
Whether probate will be required is not dependent upon whether or not the person left a Will, but rather on the value of their assets - and the thresholds for requiring probate vary between financial institutions, between £5000 and £50,000. Most financial institutions will not require probate if a person’s assets are less than £5000.
If a person’s spouse or civil partner dies, and they held joint bank accounts, owned their home as ‘joint tenants’ and owned other items jointly, probate usually isn’t required. However, this can be a complicated area, so for individual advice about your situation, please contact Bailey & Cogger Solicitors.
How much does probate cost?
The fee for applying for probate is currently £273 if the deceased person’s estate is worth over £5000. If the estate is worth £5000 or less, there is no fee payable. This does not include the costs of using a solicitor and is a government-set fee.
The costs for using a solicitor to help with probate can vary - this usually depends on the solicitor used, the size of the estate, and the complexity involved.
At Bailey & Cogger Solicitors, some parts of the probate process can be handled on a fixed fee basis, which we are happy to discuss with you. This helps to ensure you know exactly what costs will be involved.
If there are other matters or additional help required, we are able to work on an hourly rate basis, which will depend on the level of expertise required. Please contact us for further help.
What if the executor does not distribute the estate after probate?
The course of action for dealing with a situation whereby an executor is failing in the discharge of their duty depends upon what stage they are up to with the Grant of Probate process.
If the executor already has a Grant of Probate, it will usually be necessary to challenge them in the courts if they are not fulfilling their responsibilities as executor. A court has powers under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to remove an executor if they decide that they are not meeting their obligations.
Due to the fact that an executor is chosen by the deceased, courts usually prefer to keep the person as executor, so there will need to be proof that the executor is seriously failing in their responsibilities. Bailey & Cogger Solicitors is well placed to help you deal with any such disputes and is here to help you resolve them quickly and efficiently, and in a manner that secures the best outcome possible for you.
Speak to our Probate Solicitors in Tonbridge, Kent
To discuss your requirements with our probate and estate administration specialists, please call us on 01732 353305 or fill in our simple contact form, and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.
You can arrange an initial consultation with a member of our team from £100+VAT.
We can also offer meetings by Zoom for clients who have to travel extensively or who now live abroad. In exceptional circumstances, home visits can also be arranged.