Do I Need A Solicitor To Apply For Probate?

Probate is a legal process in England and Wales that is sometimes needed after someone dies.

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By Nicola Briggs - 20th May 2021

You do not need a solicitor to apply for probate, but most executors and administrators choose to use a solicitor, especially if the estate is complex.

Applying for probate

Probate is a legal process in England and Wales that is sometimes needed after someone dies. It involves applying for a Grant of Representation from the probate registry. Specifically, you will need a Grant of Probate if there is a Will, or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there isn’t a Will, or if you are not named as an Executor in the will.

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Is probate needed?

It is not always necessary to apply for a Grant of Representation. A solicitor from our team can advise quickly as to whether probate is required following your loved one’s death.

A Grant will definitely be needed if a property is owned in the deceased’s sole name, or they have a bank account, ISA or investment that is over a certain financial value. Banks and investment companies set different limits at which they will require to see a Grant before releasing funds. This could be £35,000 or it could be £50,000. There is no one limit that covers all bank accounts and investments.

Can I apply for a Grant myself?

You are free to apply for a Grant of Representation on your own. There is no legal obligation to use a solicitor. However, the process involves a considerable amount of paperwork, so you will need to be comfortable dealing with legal, tax and other administrative work.

Often, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the Inheritance Tax forms. These have to be completed, whether or not Inheritance Tax is payable. There is a simple tax form and a more complex one. Many estates will require the complex form in order to claim the benefit of the Residence Nil-Rate Band, or because there have been lifetime gifts or there are foreign assets over a certain value. Some allowances need to be claimed within two years of the date of death, which can cause a problem, if you are unaware of this.

Inheritance Tax also needs to be paid before the Grant of Representation is issued. Again, this can pose difficulties for the executors or administrators, who may not have enough liquid capital to cover the liability.

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Speak to the probate solicitors

Therefore, probate isn’t just about providing the deceased’s name and Will (if there is one). There are complicated tax calculations to make – and if you make a mistake, you could be held personally accountable.

That is why most people choose to use a probate solicitor, particularly when the estate is large and/or contains overseas assets. A solicitor from our team can apply for a Grant on your behalf. As part of this, we will complete all the necessary forms – including the Inheritance Tax forms. We’ll know what allowances can be claimed, and will do this within the necessary time frame.

If Inheritance Tax is payable, we can assist in the release of funds from banks and arrange loans to the estate. Where we are instructed, we are able to advise on the advantages of Deeds of Variation to save Inheritance Tax, or the need for appropriation of assets to a beneficiary to reduce the impact of Capital Gains Tax. We also understand whether an estate will fall into the category of a ‘complex estate’ requiring registration on the Complex Estates Register.

Speak to our probate solicitors

At Aticus Law, we deal with all aspects of probate and estate administration. The application for the Grant is only a part of the process. We recommend that advice is taken in every estate to ensure that any hidden complexities are not missed.

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