Key Takeaways

  • Probate, also known as Grant of Representation is required to prove the validity of a Will after death.
  • Probate is required by Banks and financial institutions if the estate is valued over £5k and not being passed to a spouse
  • Probate can be quite complex depending on the size of the estate and assets within it, for example, if there are non-UK assets
  • Probate services exist to handle the administration behind applying for probate, including calculating the estate value

What are Probate services?

Probate services exist to take full responsibility for obtaining the Grant of Probate. As part of the service, they will deal with the legal, tax, property, and other estate administration.

Probate services are often quoted as a fixed fee.

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What is Probate?

Probate is the legal right to deal with someone else's estate when they die. It confirms the details in the Will and agrees to its validity. Also known as a grant of representation, is the process of proving that a deceased person's will is valid. It provides the legal right to deal with someone's estate when they die.

If the deceased person had a will, the person named in the will as the executor is responsible for obtaining probate. To do this, the executor must first apply for a grant of probate from the probate registry. This can be done by submitting a copy of the will, the death certificate, other required documents, and paying the appropriate fees.

The probate registry will review the application and, if everything is in order, will issue a grant of probate.

The executor can then use the grant of probate to administer the deceased person's estate and distribute their assets according to the terms of the will.

Where to apply for Probate?

You need to apply to the Government to get Probate.

Probate isn't always required, but generally, if there was a Will and an estate cash value of £5k+ probate may be required.

Whether probate is required to settle and close accounts is decided by the bank or building society where the account is held. The policy around probate differs from company to company. When you contact these banks to report the death you will be made aware of what is required.

You can apply for Probate on the government website.

You will need to provide original versions of the Will, which can take around 6 weeks to process.

Only the executor of the Will can apply if there is a Will. If there is no Will, the closest family member can apply.

Steps of administrating an estate with probate 

  • Find out if you need probate.

Most of the time, a grant of probate is needed if the person who died owned any property or assets in their own name or had certain types of financial accounts or investments with a balance over £5,000. However, this differs between financial organisations.

  • Collect the documents you need. 

This includes a copy of the deceased person's Will, if one was made, the death certificate, and a list of the assets and debts. You are able to put this list together yourself. However, determining values can be tricky and you may want to apply for official valuations, if possible.

  • Apply for grant of probate with the Probate Registry. 

The probate application can be made online or sent through the mail. You will also need to pay the probate fee and send the required documents. If the estate is worth more than £5,000, you have to pay a fee of £273. If the estate is worth less than £5,000, there is no fee to pay. If you require help paying and are entitled to receive benefits, the government may help you pay the fee.

  • Wait for the grant of probate to be issued.

Depending on the complexity of the estate, this can take a few weeks or even longer. In the meantime, bank accounts of the deceased will be frozen. If you require money from the estate to pay for funeral expenses, this is an allowable exception with proof of expense.

  • Administrate the estate and wishes of the deceased. 

Now that probate has been issued, the executor or administrator named in the will (or, if no will, the next of kin) can start paying the deceased person's debts, distributing their assets to the named beneficiaries, and following any other wishes.

Are Probate services worth it?

When mourning a loss, it is a difficult time, and dealing with the administration to close the estate of the deceased can add additional stress, which you may not be prepared to deal with. This is understandable as it is a very emotional time.

Probate services can relieve some of that stress by taking the admin off of your hands. 

When to use a Probate service

A Probate service may be useful during the following scenarios:

  • There is no Will and the estate is complex to administrate without support
  • The Will has been challenged regarding its validity
  • There were dependants who were specifically left out of the Will who are likely to challenge it
  • There are assets in the estate which are held in Trust
  • The estate is bankrupt
  • The estate includes foreign assets
  • The owner of the estate lived outside of the UK

Getting Advice on Probate Services

When dealing with probate matters, seeking advice from a probate services provider or a probate adviser can be highly beneficial. These professionals specialise in navigating the complexities of probate, which involves the legal process of administering a deceased person's estate. They can provide expert guidance on fulfilling legal requirements, understanding inheritance tax implications, and handling the distribution of assets according to the deceased person's wishes. Probate advisers can also assist with completing the necessary paperwork, resolving any disputes, and ensuring the efficient and proper administration of the estate. Seeking advice from a probate services provider or adviser can help alleviate stress and confusion during an already challenging time, ensuring that the probate process is carried out smoothly and in accordance with legal obligations.

Policies around probate can differ from financial organisations to another. Some Banks will require probate only if the cash in the bank is over a certain limit. Generally, Banks will move accounts from joint to sole without probate. However, closing sole accounts will normally require probate if certain conditions are met. Banks may also ask for a copy of the Will to confirm the executor is verified correctly.
An application for probate can vary depending on how complex the case is, alongside what evidence is required. It can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 12 months. Most applications will be completed around the 6 weeks period.
Probate is the legal right to deal with someone's estate. Having probate means that the will has been confirmed as valid and the executor is able to distribute assets accordingly. It is not always required.
If an executor does not follow what the Will states, you, as a beneficiary or next of kin, will be able to apply to the court for someone to administer the Will. Once the Will is confirmed, it will be demanded that the executor distributes the assets in the correct way.
Probate services assist with the process of applying for Probate. They take most of the work out of your hands, but they charge a fee for their service. A Later life Adviser or Financial Adviser can usually offer these services. It is a good idea to seek advice to discuss options that are available to you.

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