What Is Probate?

September 2022

Probate is the process of dealing with a dead person’s estate. This involves collecting together all their money, assets, property and possessions and distributing them as inheritance – after paying any taxes and debts. If the deceased has left a Will, it will name the person that they’ve chosen to look after their estate. This person is known as the "executor of the Will".

What Is A Grant of Probate?The executor must apply for a Grant of Probate at the start of the process. This is a legal document that gives them the authority to deal with the deceased’s property. Probate ends once all taxes and debts have been paid and all inheritance passed on. This blog post is intended to help you understand the probate process and how much it costs.

Who Can Apply For Probate?

If you have been named executor but don’t want to administer the estate yourself, we can apply for probate on your behalf. If someone dies without a Will, they are said to be intestate. The intestacy rules will say who can apply to administer the estate instead.

Can You Get Probate If There Is No Will?

You can’t get a Grant of Probate if there isn’t a Will, but you can still administer the estate and distribute inheritance through a slightly different process:

The rules of intestacy set out who can apply to administer the estate with a Grant of Administration. Without a Will deciding how to pass on the assets, the administrator distributes inheritance according to the rules of intestacy. 

How Much Does Probate Cost?

Our fees for Probate are based on the Law Society’s recommended fee scale:

1% of the value of assets other than land*
0.5% of the value of land and a discounted hourly rate of £100.00*
*All fees are subject to VAT

As often each case is different it is worth checking with us what our fees will be in your case. We will endeavor to offer fixed fees where possible.

Can I Challenge Someone’s Will?

You may be able to challenge or contest a Will if you think it doesn’t accurately represent the deceased’s intentions for their estate, or because you think it is invalid for other reasons. You can contest a will if:

  • The Will has been forged

  • The deceased had reduced mental capacity when writing their Will
  • You were financially dependent on the deceased and the Will doesn’t provide for you (as required by the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act).
  • The deceased was under undue influence when writing their Will

Can A Will Be Changed After Death?

You can change a valid Will, but you can only make changes to the share of the inheritance that it has given you. For example, you could:
Give specific assets to different people instead
Give away your whole entitlement
Seek to reduce inheritance tax
Use your inheritance to set up a trust for your family.
You will need to apply for a document called a deed of variation, or a deed of family arrangement, to do this. Changing a will after someone dies can be a tricky process. Contact our probate solicitors on 0208 946 9466 (London Office) or 01803 865282 (Devon Office) or send us an email if you need advice and we can guide you through the process.  

What Rights Does A Beneficiary Have To Receive Their Bequest?

How Does The Probate Process Work?
Every estate and every Will is different. The exact probate process can vary depending on the instructions left in the Will and the assets, creditors, and beneficiaries the estate has. The basic process for an executor is:
Gather the full details of the estate’s assets and debts
Collect assets
Complete an inheritance tax return and pay any tax due on the estate
Apply for Grant of Probate (permission to administer the estate and pass out inheritance)
You receive a Grant of Probate
Repay any of the deceased’s outstanding debts
Distribute the rest of the estate according to the instructions left in the Will.
Probate can also be complicated if there are any disputes between the executor, beneficiaries, creditors, or HMRC. Our probate solicitors can advise on or help with any stage of the probate process. We can help if disputes are stopping you from making progress or can even take over your duties as executor entirely. For a free, private initial discussion with one of our probate solicitors, call 0208 946 9466 London Office or 01803 865282 Devon Office or send us an email