In layman’s terms, Probate is the administration of a deceased person’s financial assets and estate. Of course in reality probate is not such a cut and dry affair. If a death is unexpected then often a person will leave a tangled web of financial issues that need to be carefully deciphered and managed. It is important to quickly ascertain whether a deceased person’s wealth and assets exceeds the amount where legal involvement becomes a necessity. The amount of wealth left behind will determine whether a Grant of Probate is needed.
If the deceased’s estate is below £5,000 then quite simply a grant of probate will not be required. Regardless of leaving a written will, assets that fall below this threshold are easy to deal with. For assets under £5,000, access to money can simply be obtained by presenting the bank or building society with a death certificate. On receipt of this official document, the financial institution will release all monies that are held in the deceased’s name. An estate that is worth less than £5,000 can easily be managed without the need for legal assistance and any costly probate fees that are associated with hiring a solicitor can easily be avoided.
If the value of the deceased’s estate exceeds the £5,000 threshold, then a Grant of Probate will need to be obtained before the deceased’s estate can be executed. Once you have ascertained the estate is valued more than £5,000 the next step is locating a will. A probate grant can not be granted without the original copy of the deceased’s will. Often located at a solicitors office or held by the bank, finding a written will is the first step you need to take to successfully obtain a Grant of Probate
After finding the will, the next step is to begin the application to the probate registry. It is perfectly visible to save on the legal probate cost by bypassing the services of a solicitor. The probate fees for a private application are currently set at £90. Unfortunately a high percentage of the population fails to execute a will. If no will is found it can make the process a little more complicated and could take you months to finalize.
At a time of distress and legal uncertainty, many people prefer to use the services of Probate Solicitor. Highly skilled in the many issues that surround probate, a specialist solicitor will speed up the process and ensure that every legal angle is covered. The probate cost using a professional is dependant on the law firm that you hire. However, a majority of solicitors will charge their clients at a fixed hourly rate and will request a small percentage of the final estates value; this percentage can range from as little as 0.3% to as high as 3% of the final figure.
At a time of such bereavement, hiring a team of legal professionals for peace of mind far outweighs the savings made on probate fees should you undertake the process yourself. Choosing to use a probate solicitor will also help you navigate the confusing inheritance tax laws that are now present in the UK; it will also save you hours of form fillings and interviews by the official probate board.
About the author:
Jon Platy is the content co-ordinator for Principal Homebuyers – a UK based service that matches sellers and buyers for selling your house quickly and smoothly.