What Legally Do I Need To Do When Someone Dies?
It is always a difficult time when a loved one passes away. There are many things you will need to deal with, including planning the funeral of course, and possibly having to obtain Probate to administer that person’s estate.
Probate is an all too misunderstood process. Here are a few of the most common questions clients often ask me and the answers:
What exactly is Probate ?
In a nutshell, it is the process of applying to Court (your local Probate Registry) for a person to be appointed who has the legal power to administer the estate of the deceased person
Is Probate always required ?
No, for small estates (normally under £15,000), and assets which are held in joint names, Probate will not normally be required. In these circumstances, any joint bank accounts will automatically pass to the surviving spouse and any account in a sole name will usually be able to be closed by completing closure forms provided by the bank.
How long does it take to obtain Probate ?
This very much depends upon the size of the estate but, in most straight forward cases, Probate can often be obtained within a few weeks. The Probate Registry issues the Grant of Probate within around 2 weeks of applying.
Does it cost a lot to use a Solicitor ?
In most cases, not as much as you might think. This is a competitive area of the law and most Solicitors (including ourselves), now offer an Express fixed price service.
Why should I use a Solicitor ?
This is entirely down to personal choice but, personally, I have always been happy to pay a professional a reasonable fee to do something for me, to ensure that it is done properly. It can all too often be a false economy to try do things yourself, when you don’t have the expertise and experience.
On a final note, I also advise you to be cautious of paying thousands of pounds in legal fees without shopping around first. I have recently spoken to clients who have been “referred” by their bank to their own “recommended” Solicitors. The fees they have been charged have been significantly above the average fee which a local Solicitor would charge. As with any large purchase, always do your own research on prices before deciding which professional you wish to instruct.