Do I Have to Use a Solicitor for Probate?
08 January 2016
Using a Solicitor for Probate in England or Wales is not compulsory, but it often helps to ease the burden after someone close has passed away. In these circumstances, you may find that you have been named as the Executor in the Will or if your loved one didn't leave a Will, you may find that, as their next-of-kin, you are responsible for completing Probate for their Estate.
Probate can be a lengthy and time consuming process, which can take many hours of administrative work and it can take up to a year or more to complete Probate. In addition, if you make any mistakes when carrying out any of the many, required Estate administration duties, you could be held legally and/or financially responsible, so whilst using a Solicitor for Probate is not compulsory it is well worth considering.
Firstly, understanding if Probate is required can help you decide if you want to use a Solicitor for Probate. To find out if Probate is required see our online Probate questionnaire or call us and we will tell you.
Probate may not apply if there is no property, investments, shares or land owned or if the Estate is worth less than a certain amount. This can be as little £5,000 or as high as £50,000 and depends on whether the deceased's bank, building society or other financial institution requires Probate to close the deceased's accounts and release the funds. Therefore you will need to check with the particular bank or financial institution to find out what their rules are regarding Probate.
Many high street banks and solicitors are known to have charged the deceased's family up to around 6% of the total value of the deceased person's Estate. This is not a legal requirement, and it's not part of the Probate and Estate Administration process.
At Co-op Legal Services our Probate Solicitors do not charge a percentage of the value of the deceased person's Estate. We offer fixed fee Probate agreed with you upfront before any work starts.
If Probate is required there is still no need to use a Solicitor for Probate and you can complete the Probate process yourself. You can get the Probate forms you need from HM Courts & Tribunals Service website but you will get no help or assistance in completing the necessary forms correctly nor on valuing the Estate, calculating and paying any Inheritance Tax (IHT) due nor on liquidating the assets and distributing the Estate.
You could opt for a DIY Probate Pack. This may provide you with a DIY pack containing all the information and documents you need to complete Probate yourself. Once purchased though, you won't have access to legal advice or help on any matters that come up during the administration of the Estate. You can purchase a DIY Probate pack online, but be prepared to complete hours of administrative work.
But if you decide that you want to use a Solicitor for Probate to complete the Probate process for you, you can use our Probate Complete Service. We'll take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate and dealing with the legal, tax (excluding VAT), property and Estate Administration affairs.
With our Probate Complete Service we can also arrange a loan to cover any Inheritance Tax (IHT) owed by the Estate*, and settle the cost of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral* and reimburse any deposit paid, as soon as you have instructed us to represent you.
Making a decision about whether to use a Solicitor for Probate or not is a personal decision, but it is well worth weighing up the benefits and drawbacks of all the options first.
*Providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold to repay our costs.