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5 Tips to consider when choosing a Probate‬ Solicitor

22nd January 2016

If a loved one has passed away and you don't know what to do about Probate, here are five useful tips to help you choose a Probate Solicitor.

  1. Are you named as an Executor in the Will? When you are named as the Executor in a Will, there are a number of things to consider about instructing a Probate Solicitor. First you have to decide if you want to act as the Executor of the Estate or not. This is not something you have to do, but hopefully your loved one will have discussed with you the possibility of being their Executor before they died.

    You should bear in mind that if you decide to deal with Probate yourself, without a Probate Solicitor, there are legal responsibilities which you as an Executor are legally responsible for, and if you fail to carry these out correctly, you may be held legally or financially responsible for any mistakes made.
  2. Do you need to get Probate? There are some situations where you do not need to get Probate at all. This may be the case if the estate you are dealing with does not have any property, shares, land or investments or if the estate is worth less than a specified amount; usually set by each bank or financial institution with which the deceased held funds or investments.

    The real problem is that each financial institution has their own rules to determine whether they require Probate and there are no hard and fast rules – the figures can range from £5,000 up to £50,000 so you will have to do some work to find out if Probate is required or not.
  3. Do you need to use a Probate Solicitor? You don't have to but our Probate Solicitors could save you thousands of pounds in Probate fees. You can also buy a DIY Probate Pack which will provide you with everything you need to complete Probate yourself. This do-it-yourself pack includes all the forms you need, useful templates and details of who you will need to contact throughout the Probate and Estate Administration process.

    Apart from some initial advice provided when you purchase the DIY Probate pack, you will need to complete the Probate process without any legal support (because it's "DIY" product). Completing Probate can be very complicated and it does take a long time. You should be prepared to put in anywhere between 70 and 100 hours of work to complete the Probate process and expect it to take up to a year.

    For many people who work full time and who have other obligations, this proves to be too great a commitment to make. So instructing a specialist Probate Solicitor who offers a Complete Probate Service is often the best way to deal with Probate.
  4. How much does Probate cost? This entirely depends on the value of the estate and how complex matters are. If the estate has missing beneficiaries and numerous high value investments, Probate will be much more complex on this estate than it would be on a small estate with one house in the UK.

    A Probate quote will usually take into account only the value of the estate, however our Probate Specialists will review the complexity of the estate alongside this, which is reflected in the quotation we provide for our Complete Probate Service. The cost of Complete Probate starts at £1,780 including VAT and the price we quote you for the agreed work is the price you pay.
  5. How long does Probate take? There is no escaping that Probate is a lengthy process that is time consuming even if you decide to deal with Probate yourself. As an estimated minimum, it will take you about 70 hours over around a year or more. You need to think carefully about whether you are prepared to make that commitment.

When someone dies in England or Wales, there are some tasks that you should action as quickly as possible to help protect their estate, property and belongings. These include:

  • Finding the Will, if there is one.
  • Securing the property and ensuring there is adequate insurance in place – you should inform the insurance company and tell them if the property is now unoccupied, which could result in the cancellation of the policy. Be prepared to look for a new insurer.
  • Taking an inventory of all belongings, particularly if you are named as Executor in the Will. This may include taking photographs of all belongings so you have a clear record of the items in the property.
  • Preventing incoming post from being left at the empty property. You could arrange a mail redirection with Royal Mail, and utilise the services of a company who aim to remove details from as many mailing lists as possible.
  • Protecting important documents such as:
    1. Passport
    2. Tax Records
    3. Driving Licence
    4. Birth Certificate
    5. Marriage certificate
    6. National Insurance information
    7. Bank Cards, cheque books and credit cards
    8. Ensuring any electronic equipment that may contain bank log in details is kept safe, along with any written passwords or log in details.
    9. Inform credit agencies that the person has died – this will mean that if anyone tries to obtain credit in their name, then it would be refused. There are three main credit agencies – Equifax, Callcredit and Experian and you may wish to notify them all.

At Co-op Legal Services, our Probate team includes over 20 Probate Solicitors and more than 130 trained Probate Consultants, Case Handlers and Advisors; including members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

For free advice and guidance about your Probate situation call our Probate Advisors on 01618558359 or contact us online and we will help you.

Co-operative Legal Services Limited is Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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