Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need probate?

A Grant of Probate is not always required if an estate is less than £5,000. It will be required if there is a property to sell or transfer, if there is a bank account to close with more than £10,000 – £15,000 in it, if there are stocks and shares to sell, or if the deceased did not leave a Will.

How much would a high street Solicitor charge?

Most Probate Solicitors charge on an hourly basis together with a percentage of the estate and fees can reach over £10,000. You will never pay more than £4,500 with us (plus disbursements which will be agreed with you at the outset of the matter).

On average, a solicitor will charge between 2% and 4% of the estate's value plus an hourly charge – this is roughly around £15,000 for a £500k estate.

How long will it take, and what's involved?

The process is conducted in four distinct stages, which are detailed in the attached PDF. Click the button below to view this in a new tab.

  1. Valuing the Estate
  2. File Inheritance Tax Forms and Pay and Inheritance Tax
  3. Submit the Grant of Probate / Letters of Adminstration application
  4. Administer the Estate
View each stage in detail (PDF)
Do I need to do this now?

As an Executor or Administrator of an estate, you have a duty to the beneficiaries to distribute the estate within one year from the date of death. It is therefore advisable to start the probate process as soon as you are able.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is the document issued by the Probate Registry confirming the Executor or Administrator as the person legally entitled to administer an estate.

It's required when the deceased has left assets such as property, bank accounts, or investments and shares etc. which were held in their sole name, and also when the deceased owns a share of a jointly owned asset, such as a share of the family home or any other property. The financial institutions, and the Land Registry, need to be sure they are releasing the assets to the appropriate party and will accept the Grant as the legal authority of that person to deal with the estate.

What does the Grant of Probate application only service involve?

The Executor/Administrator would obtain values for all assets held by the deceased as at the date of death. The legal advisor would will complete all the forms and apply to the court for the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration as appropriate, but will not administer the distribution or settlement of the estate and will not deal with any banks or debtors etc. The Grant will be issued to the Executor/Administrator to carry out this work themselves.

What is Estate Administration?

Estate administration is the process by which Personal Representatives (i.e. an Executor if there is a Will or an Administrator if there is no Will) deal with a person’s legal and tax affairs after they’ve passed away. This includes the distribution of any assets or personal possessions to beneficiaries as well as paying any outstanding debts. There can be quite a few steps involved when administering an estate, some more complex or time-sensitive than others.

What does the Full Estate Administration service involve?

Unlike the Grant only service, the legal advisor carries out the majority of the work on behalf of the
Executor/Administrator. This includes obtaining date of death values for all assets, paying IHT (if applicable) obtaining the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration, closing bank accounts, selling and managing property, shares etc. liaising with all of the beneficiaries, paying any debts and expenses, preparing Estate Accounts paying any Income Tax and distributing the estate in accordance with the Will or rules of Intestacy and deal with all tax issues with HMRC.

What's the difference between 'Executor' and 'Administrator'?

If there is a valid Will, at least one Executor will be appointed and authorised to deal with
the estate. If there is no Will (this is known as intestacy) the role is known as an Administrator
(normally the surviving spouse or children). Both roles have the same responsibility; to administer a person’s estate when they have passed away.

What am I supposed to do as the Executor?

An Executor or Administrator is financially and legally responsible for administering an estate. They are also personally liable for the incorrect distribution of an estate. The role of an Executor or Administrator is extensive and should be carefully considered. Executor(s) or Administrator(s) are the only person(s) able to instruct a legal professional to act on their behalf.

It is an unpaid role but you can be paid back for reasonably incurred expenses. As an Executor or Administrator, you are responsible for ensuring the following:

  • Maximising the estate for those who are inheriting, known as beneficiaries.
  • Identifying all assets and debts of the deceased.
  • If there is any Inheritance Tax to be paid, it is paid and submitted within the appropriate timeframes. A delay could result in the estate being liable to interest and/or penalties.
  • An Executor or Administrator becomes personally liable if there are any errors on the Inheritance Tax forms or payment of Inheritance Tax or Income Tax.
  • Ensuring that the Income Tax position of the deceased is finalised, up to date of death and for the period following death until payments are made to the beneficiaries.
  • Ensuring that any property is managed appropriately. For example, changing locks, ensuring that the insurance is up-to-date, regular property checks, maintenance and if the property is to be sold, making sure it is sold for the best possible price.

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