Fixed Fee Probate Services
Book a Complimentary Probate Meeting with Redwood Financial
Dealing with the Estate, legal and financial affairs of someone who has died can be complex and often emotionally challenging for those left behind and tasked with executing Probate.
We offer a Complimentary Video or Telephone Probate Meeting to discuss your case and explain the process, so you will know how best to proceed.
Award Winning Probate Solicitors
Should you chose to move forward, our Probate Service can take over the full responsibility for completing the Grant of Probate, dealing with the Legal, Tax, Property and Estate Administration affairs, with everything done on a Fixed Fee basis.
We have partnered with an established, award winning Probate Solicitor to provide all the legal work and sign off for your Probate application, enabling us to offer this service at a highly competitive cost, underpinned by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
What does Probate Mean?
Probate may be required when someone passes away. It refers to the ‘Grant of Probate’, officially known as the ‘Grant of Representation’ in England and Wales and ‘Confirmation’ in Scotland.
Probate is just one part of the wider Estate Administration process. Probate provides you with the legal right to carry out the Estate Administration, including dealing with property, money, and personal possessions. As specialists in Financial, Estate and Inheritance Tax Planning it means we are able to help you and your family with the whole Estate Administration process, looking at the full picture, not just Probate in isolation, if that is needed.
Probate is required by law if the Estate is worth more than £5,000 in value, if the deceased owned any property, or if a financial institution (e.g. a bank or building society) needs to see the ‘Grant of Representation’ in order to release the funds.
Probate will not be needed if the assets were held jointly as they will automatically pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner under the Rules of Survivorship.
Do I need Probate?
A Probate Letter of Administration is needed in most circumstances to deal with an Estate that includes a property. Where a house, flat or other main residence does not form part of the deceased Estate, a Letter of Administration or Probate may not be needed, and where the following principles also apply:
- The Estate comprises of cash, personal belongings like a car, jewellery, and furniture
- Any property within the Estate is owned as beneficial joint tenants, as the property automatically passes to the other owner
- The deceased shared a joint bank account, as this passes to the other named account holder
- The value of money is small, usually £5,000 or less
- The Estate is insolvent and has insufficient funds to settle any outstanding debts, taxes, and expenses
- There are only certain Pension Benefits and Life Insurance policies in the Estate.
We would always recommend you seek professional help and advice when dealing with Probate to ensure that you have clarity about and fully comply with your legal obligations and duties. Our Fixed Fee Will and Probate Services are tailored to your needs.
How long does Probate take?
On average, you should expect the Probate process to take 9 months from the date of death through to completion. Typically, we see cases taking between 6 months and a year, depending on the complexity and size of the Estate Probate is being applied on.
If the deceased left a Will, and the Estate is relatively straightforward, the 6 months is easily achievable. Where the deceased has died Intestate, without a Will, or if the Estate cannot easily be valued or identified, then 12 months is more likely to be a realistic timeframe.
Why does probate take so long?
Probate is a long administrative process and because there are so many variables involved, few cases are the same.
There are application forms to complete and submit, requiring the person dealing with the Estate to find, check and report on a lot of different elements that make up the Estate.
Once submitted to the Probate Registry and possibly HMRC if the Estate is taxable, these agencies have to complete their own internal checks and balances on the submission before a Grant of Probate can be made.
There are many administrative barriers to cross when dealing with Probate. For example, there is a requirement to publish the death and a statutory period of two months from the date of advertisement for creditors and others who may wish to make a claim to come forward.
HMRC can make Inheritance Tax claims up to 6 months after the date of death, while the Work and Pensions Department investigations and claims can take months or even years to conclude!
If someone feels they have not been provided for financially, for example a man excludes his wife from any inheritance, they may have cause to make an Inheritance Claim which again can drag on for many years and at a great cost.
It is only when the Grant of Probate has been issued to the Executor of the Estate, that the deceased’s bank accounts can be emptied and closed, property sold, and assets disposed of, according to the wishes in the Will.
The length of time can be considerably longer when no Will exists or cannot be found. Under the Rules of Intestacy, the Government will appoint an official to decide who will be the Trustee(s) responsible for completing Probate and ensure the Estate is distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.
How much money can you have in the bank before Probate?
It is very important that the bank or banks(s) that the deceased had accounts with are notified as soon as practical after they have died. No funds held in the accounts should be touch without the bank being informed. They will effectively freeze the accounts as soon as they are notified.
How much money can be held in the bank before Probate is needed very much depends on who the deceased banked with. As a guiding principle, Probate is unlikely to be needed on a small Estate where no property was owned and everything else is worth less than £15,000.
However, each institution has its own rules and limits on what they considered an acceptable threshold before a Grant of Probate is required to deal with the closing of the accounts and removal of any funds. This can range from as little as £5,000 up to £50,000.
You should ask the bank what their limit is when you inform them that one of their customers has died.
What if the Executor does not distribute the Estate after Probate?
An Executor has a legal obligation to execute their duties accurately and honestly. In the rare case where a beneficiary of the Estate has concerns about the conduct of an Executor, they can initially write to them asking for an account of the administration of the Estate.
Should the Executor fail to respond within a reasonable period of time, or the beneficiary is still dissatisfied with the Executor’s explanation, they can apply to the court to remove and substitute the Executor.
The vast majority of Executor’s have been chosen by the deceased as someone they implicitly trust to do the right thing by them and to execute their final wishes. However, removing a rouge Executor can be difficult and expensive. The onus is on the beneficiaries to prove to the court that the Executor has seriously failed in their duties.
Generally, the courts will only remove an Executor for the following reasons:
- The executor has been convicted of a crime and imprisoned, disqualifying them from being an Executor.
- They have developed a permanent or temporary mental or physical disability which have rendered them incapable of performing the duties of an Executor.
- A conflict of interest or serious misconduct such as stealing from the Estate, not keeping proper accounting records, not obeying a court order, or mismanaging the Estate, means they are unsuitable for the role.
How do I get a copy of a Will before Probate?
We always encourage our Clients to tell their Executors where they can find a copy of their Will in the event of their death. This can remove a considerable amount of stress from the family at what is already a very stressful and emotional time.
Failing that, you can check with the deceased’s Will and Probate Services provider, usually a local specialist Financial and Estate Planning Firm or law firm.
The National Will Register also offers a Will search service that can be useful if the deceased had ensured their Will was registered on the database.
How long can a solicitor hold money after Probate?
There are no hard and fast rules on the length of time a solicitor can hold money after Probate has been granted. Every case is different depending on its complexity and any claims being made against the Estate.
The average is six months, and we would always recommend to our Clients that they should expect 12 months and hope for six!
How long after Probate is granted does it take to receive an Inheritance?
This will depend on the complexity of the case, but typically the expectation across England and Wales is that beneficiaries should receive their Inheritance within 6 – 9 months.
In the rare cases where an Estate has no property, a single bank account, and no other complexities, Beneficiaries could be receiving their Inheritance within 3 months.
Can I make a Probate Application online?
The Government have recently started rolling out applying for Probate online on a fairly small scale, to individual applicants and a selected number of solicitors.
This is currently a basic service and requires a good level of skill and competence to ensure a high standard of accuracy. It can currently be used for:
- applications where up to 4 executors are applying
- there is an original Will available even if the person who died made changes to that Will (these changes are known as Codicils)
- the person who has died classed England and Wales as their permanent home or intended to return to England and Wales to live permanently.
Do I need to use a solicitor for Probate?
While it is not a legal requirement to use a solicitors for Probate, we would always recommend that you engage a Will and Probate Services specialist like Redwood to guide you through this complex and daunting process.
While it can be funded out of the Estate value, we know Solicitor fees for Probate can soon spiral. This is why we always work with our Clients on a fixed fee basis, so they know the cost upfront and before deciding to engage the services of a Probate Specialist to help, that way we ensure that the beneficiaries receive as much of the Inheritance value as possible.
We offer a Complimentary Video or Telephone Probate Meeting to discuss your case and explain the process, so you will know how best to proceed. And because we work with one of the best Probate solicitors in the country, we can offer you the very best service, care and a fixed cost, so you’ll know to the last penny, the cost of Probate for the Estate you are dealing with.