The job of probate, or winding up someone’s estate after their death, can be a time-consuming and complex process. The alternative to taking on this job yourself is asking a professional probate solicitor to do the work for you.
For many people, dealing with probate is simply too much to fit into a busy life. The substantial amount of paperwork involved can take months or even years to complete and often those left to cope with it find it overwhelming.
In some circumstances, probate can be exceptionally complicated, for example where the deceased held substantial assets, where the tax situation is complex, where the deceased did not make a Will or where the Will is ambiguous or disputed.
Employing a probate solicitor means that not only will the copious amounts of documentation be dealt with on your behalf, but that difficult Inheritance Tax calculations and the preparation of estate accounts will be done by a professional. There can be personal liability for any losses occurred by the estate if the person dealing with the administration makes a mistake, even if it is a genuine error. For this reason, many people opt to have a professional take on the task of probate.
The costs of probate will be paid from the deceased’s estate. In deciding whether this is the right choice for your circumstances you will need to have some idea of the likely expense.
Fees Transparency In Uncontested Probate
Probate solicitors are required to display their prices and service information in respect of their costs for dealing with an uncontested probate matter. Probate is uncontested if no-one is objecting to the terms of the Will.
You will be able to check the total cost, to include any extra costs, such as the Probate Registry fee and VAT, as well as the solicitor’s charge.
The fees may be fixed or on an hourly rate or alternatively, they may be calculated as a percentage cost of the value of the estate.
The information will usually be found on the law firm’s website. It will also set out exactly what services are included in the price, the likely timescale involved, a note of the key stages in the probate process and details of any extra services that are not included in the basic price.
You will also be able to look at the qualifications and experience of the probate lawyer who will be carrying out the work as well as their supervisor.
What Does A Probate Solicitor Do?
If the deceased has left a Will, this will name one or more executors, whose job it is to deal with the probate or winding up of the estate.
Once the death has been registered and the Will located, the probate process starts with the valuation of the deceased’s estate. This involves identifying all of the assets held by the deceased and how much they are worth.
The estate valuation will be used to calculate the amount of Inheritance Tax payable. As well as looking at the value of the estate, the amount of any cash gifts made by the deceased in the preceding seven years needs to be taken into account, as Inheritance Tax may be payable on these on a sliding scale, depending on how long ago they were made.
The executors then need to pay the Inheritance Tax so that they can make an application to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate.
Once the Grant has been received, the estate assets can be collected in and sold or transferred. This will include clearing and selling any property. This part of the estate administration can be lengthy, particularly in waiting for asset holders to respond and close accounts, sell shares or for an estate agent to find a buyer for a property.
Finally, the estate accounts will be prepared and the estate distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will or, if the deceased did not leave a Will, in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.
Probate Fees And Costs
Solicitors’ charges for dealing with probate will vary from firm to firm. In deciding who you would like to deal with probate on your behalf you are likely to consider issues such as how complex the estate is and whether the law firm is local to you.
Costs are generally made either on the basis of an hourly rate or as a percentage of the value of the estate. If an hourly rate charge is made, the level will depend on the seniority of the solicitor involved. For a simple estate, it is usually cost-effective to employ a more junior solicitor. They will still be overseen by a senior solicitor and will offer the same level of service, but for a lower fee.
A percentage cost is likely to be in the range of between 2% and 5% of the value of the estate plus VAT.
In addition to the legal fees, the Probate Registry will charge £215 to process the probate application where the estate is worth more than £5,000.
For smaller estates, some law firms may offer a fixed fee probate service. It is advisable to use a qualified solicitor rather than a probate service firm, which may not have the same level of experience, qualifications or accreditation.
Finding The Right Probate Solicitor
Finding a reliable local probate solicitor can be time-consuming and an extra burden at what is often a very difficult time. At Solicitors Near Me, we aim to help you through the process of finding a top-quality probate lawyer so that you can start the process moving as soon as possible.
Our solicitors are all hand-picked to ensure they offer not only leading expertise but also excellent service. We understand that people want to engage someone with a local connection as well as someone who is trustworthy and an expert in their field.
The service we offer costs you nothing. Simply fill in our Enquiry Form with some basic details and we will select the right probate solicitor for your needs. You can speak to them and ask any questions you may have before deciding whether you wish to go ahead. If you don’t wish to use them, you can ask us to give you another recommendation, although we very often find that our first choice of solicitor is the one that clients decide to use.
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