Applying for Probate in England or Wales
02 November 2015
By Senior Probate Solicitor Jennifer Goda, TEP
How to Apply for Probate
Probate is the word commonly used for the process of applying to the Court for the legal authority to deal with the Estate of a deceased person.
The person entitled to apply for this authority will usually be the Executor named in the Will, or the closest next-of-kin, if the person who died did not leave a valid Will. This is known as dying Intestate and the Intestacy Rules (inheritance laws) will apply.
If the Probate application is successful, the Court will issue a document called a Grant of Representation, which acts as evidence of the applicant's legal right to manage the deceased person's assets.
The Probate and Estate Administration work can be carried out by a professional organisation, such as a specialist Probate Solicitor, a firm of Solicitors or a Trust Corporation, or an application can be made by an individual person.
If using a professional, it is important to understand from the outset exactly what Probate and Estate Administration work will be charged for, the extent of the Probate work to be carried out, and particularly any areas of the work that will not be covered by their service.
An individual applying for Probate personally must complete the Probate application and send it to the local Registrar. This includes a Probate form with information about the deceased person's affairs, and an inheritance tax return giving further details of the value of the deceased person’s Estate.
The Probate forms will need to be accompanied by supporting documentation, such as the Will and death certificate, and a cheque for the Probate application fee. Once the application has been processed, the Registrar will issue an oath to be sworn by the applicant, either at the Probate Court or with a Solicitor, to confirm that all the details provided are true.
As there are specific penalties that can be imposed for providing incorrect information, it is extremely important that appropriate care and attention is paid to ensuring the information submitted is accurate.
Probate can be complicated because it often involves legal, financial, tax and property matters.
With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for the Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excluding VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.
Completing all of the Probate and Estate Administration duties and responsibilities can take 70-100 hours (or more) of detailed work over a period of a year (or more) depending on the complexity of the deceased person’s Estate.
Conducting the Probate process personally can be a significant undertaking, so, it is always worth considering whether you have the time and expertise to manage the entire process yourself, or whether engaging a specialist Probate Solicitor would be a better and safer course of action.
Whilst paying a percentage of the total value of a deceased person’s Estate is not required by law, 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, in addition to their hourly solicitor fees.
So for example, if the total value of an Estate is valued at £1,000,000 and a bank or solicitor requests that you pay 5% of the total value of the Estate, you would potentially have to pay them £50,000 when you are not required to do so.
At Co-op Legal Services, our Probate Solicitors do not require that you pay a percentage of the total value of the deceased person’s Estate. Our Probate Solicitors offer fixed fee Probate services, and once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that fee will not change unless the original information we are given is shown to be incorrect or circumstances change.
As part of the Co-op Group our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.
Many of our Probate Solicitors and Probate Case Handlers are members of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP). All STEP members are subject to an extensive Code of Professional Conduct, requiring them at all times to act with integrity and in a manner that inspires the confidence, respect and trust of their clients and of the wider community.
Probate Solicitors and Local Probate Consultants are available in England and Wales only for customers using our Probate Complete Service.
Co-op Legal Services is Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.