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What is probate?

Probate means having permission to deal with the ‘estate’ of a person who has passed away. The ‘estate’ is everything the person owns, which can include property, money (both cash and money in the bank), shares and personal possessions.

Probate is typically sorted after the funeral arrangements.

When is probate needed?

Probate is needed after someone dies and the rules differ depending on if they had a will or not. Any debts, will be paid off from the estate and any remaining money, property and belongings need to be dealt with and administered to beneficiaries. You may need to apply for probate.


Who deals with probate?

If the person who passed left a will, dealing with probate will fall to the nominated person who is called the executor of the will. It is their duty to identify the assets and debts of the estate and distribute them in accordance with the will.

If they didn't leave a will behind, this can make the process more complex but the estate will be handled by the appointed ‘dying intestate’.

Hugh James’s expert advisors will be able to help you with probate and guide you through the process.


Do I need to apply for probate?

You may need to apply for probate, but this depends on the size of the estate and the assets within it. If the person who has died hasn't left a will behind, a Grant of Probate, or Grant of Letters of Administration, will allow you to gain access to the assets of an estate so that you can carry out the administration of the estate.


I don't know when probate is needed. What should I do?

If you don't know if you need probate, call Hugh James dedicated probate specialists on 0330 053 6225. They will check whether probate is needed and if so explain your options


What help with probate can I receive?

When you contact Hugh James, you will receive various help with probate. They will be able to provide you with the details of the nearest probate office. They will also offer advice on:

  • Inform you of the duties of the executor
  • Advise you how to locate and value assets
  • Explain the rules of inheritance tax and advise you if it is applicable in your circumstances
  • The estate administration process, including probate
  • What to do if there isn’t a will
  • How to trace assets and missing beneficiaries


How long does the probate process take?

It is not unusual for probate to take up to a year, perhaps even longer if things are not straightforward. Many organisations may be involved in the process, for example, banks, building societies, insurance companies and HM Revenue & Customs. Additionally, family discussions can delay affairs being finalised.


How much does probate cost?

Charges can vary between solicitors and high street providers and it can depend on what is involved in administering the estate. Many providers fee will be a percentage of the estate.

If probate is necessary, Hugh James can provide a no-obligation fixed-fee quote.


Can I deal with probate myself?

You can carry out the process of probate yourself, however, the main cost will be time. If this is your preferred course of action Hugh James can still give you advice on how to proceed.

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