Losing a loved one is a terribly sad time and can be made even more upsetting and stressful when you are left to deal with sorting out your loved one’s affairs.

As a later life solicitor, I am often asked many questions around probate and where to start. I understand this is a stressful time and always try my best to make the process as easy as possible for my clients.

If you’ve ever had to deal with the death of a loved one, some of these questions may sound familiar.

Can I do probate myself?

The short answer is yes. You can get a grant of probate without instructing a solicitor. However, it’s important to understand your obligations of taking on the role. You will need to:

  • Apply to the Probate Registry to get the grant of probate unless it’s a very small estate.
  • You will be required to investigate the tax position and fill in forms for HMRC depending on the particular details of the estate.
  • you will have to inform organisations like pension providers, benefits payers, banks, utilities providers, local authority, that the deceased person has died.
  • You will be obliged to find out what debts are owed and pay them out of the estate’s assets, so you may find yourself negotiating with creditors.
  • The assets of the estate must be gathered in which could involve selling a house or shares.
  • Finally, you will have to distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will, or intestacy provisions if there is no will.

How long will it take?

In straight forward estates you can expect the process to be completed in around 6-12 months. That’s counted from the date the person passes away to the estate being fully distributed. Completing the probate application is likely to take the longest period of time and could take around six months.

What forms do I have to use?

To complete the probate application will need the death certificate and the will, if one exists. You also need to pay some of the inheritance tax that is due before applying for probate.

You can apply for probate online in straight forward estates. In some cases, the application has to be made by post using one of the PA1 probate application forms. You will need to fill in PA1P to apply for probate if there is a will, or PA1A to apply for probate if there is no will.

Do you need to involve all the executors? 

Yes, if there is more than one executor, you will all need to work together to deal with the estate of the person who has died. It is not legally possible for one of the co-executors to act without the knowledge or approval of the others.

How long until the beneficiaries can have their money?

On average it will take around 6 to 12 months for beneficiaries to start receiving their inheritance. This of course depends on how complex the probate is.

Can I keep the house?

If your loved one held property in their sole name, and they left a valid will dealing with the property, then the property will usually pass in line with the will. The will may state that the house is to be left as a specific gift to one or more of the beneficiaries. The house legally passes to the beneficiaries through the process of an ‘assent’.

What does the will even mean? 

Having a will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. A will is the only way to ensure that you have control over who receives your money and possessions.

Having answered some of your key questions I understand the process looks complicated and you will have many more questions. It’s completely normal to get confused and not know where to start. I know these worries keep you awake at night.

You could try to manage it yourself or you could let me take the stress and strain away.

You might be an executor, you might be a beneficiary, you could be both. Whatever your role I can support you throughout the whole process.

I would be more than happy to assist with your matter and can give you:

  1. A Fixed price so you know from the start how much it will cost; and
  2. A timetable of key events and regular updates for you and the beneficiaries; and
  3. Peace of mind that the will has been properly implemented and everything has been properly dealt with.

And most importantly time to grieve.

If you would like to discuss anything regarding dealing with probate please do not hesitate to contact me on jenny.walker@cognitivelaw.co.uk or call me on 02382 410013.