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A guide to probate

Around one in three people in the UK will need to carry out probate, according to Which? meaning you will need to know what to do.

We have put together a guide explaining what it entails, how you can save money and what should be involved in probate.

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What is probate?

Probate is the legal and financial process involved in dealing with someone’s money, property and possessions after they have died.

Who can carry out probate?

If the person who has died has written a Will, then it is likely they will have named an executor who will be responsible for dealing with their estate and carrying out the probate. However, if there is no Will in place or an executor has not been named, this responsibility typically falls to the next of kin, making them an administrator.

Before an executor or administrator can carry out the instructions in the Will or begin to divide things up how they think the deceased would have wanted, probate must be applied for and granted.

Once this has happened - through a grant of probate or letters of administration - they can then begin to deal with a person’s estate.

What does the process of probate involve?

In most cases, the process is quite simple and involves the same basic step, just follow the procedure below:

the government website, whereas if you are an administrator it is necessary to apply for probate via post.

Having been granted probate, this gives you the legal right to access things like bank accounts and discuss insurance policies.

How long does probate take to complete?

There is no set timescale when it comes to probate, as the process is dependent on the complexity of the estate. If an estate is complex, the longer probate process will take. It also depends on how long the executor or administrator can dedicate to the process.

On average, it takes between six to nine months to complete, equating to around 80 hours of work. However, if there are any complications - such as multiple properties or a contested Will - then it could take considerably longer.

Are there any fees involved?

Unfortunately, there can be fees involved when dealing with probate, but these can be avoided. For example, using a solicitor can lead to a bill totalling thousands of pounds, where a DIY approach can cost just a few hundred pounds.

If the deceased used a bank to draw up their Will, then the bank can appoint a co-executor, meaning they could charge a percentage of the estate. If all beneficiaries agree, you can ask the bank to renounce its role as executor, potentially saving a lot of money.

What is a prepaid probate plan?

A prepaid probate plan means paying a fixed fee at today’s prices for a solicitor or organisation’s services in the future. This means that you can rest assured that your family and friends won’t be left to pay anything when you have gone, allowing them to grieve without the worry of money.

The plan allows you to:

    • Save money by planning ahead
    • Pay a fixed fee at today’s prices, protecting your family against rising costs
    • Protect your family from unnecessary stress during a difficult time
    • Receive support and advice from a qualified professional
    • Plan your future, knowing everything is sorted

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