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What is probate and when is it needed?


One of the most common misconceptions we come up against when speaking to clients is that probate is not needed because the person who has died has got a Will. This, however, is not the case.

The term Probate actually defines the legal process of dealing with a person’s estate after they have died, even when they have left a valid Will. Those trusted with this probate role are referred to as Executors, not to be confused with executioners! If there is no valid Will then Letters of Administration are required. Both of these procedures define legally who is entitled to deal with the affairs of the deceased and it is the Probate Registry which oversees these procedures and they issue a court document appointing who is entitled to deal with the affairs. This is commonly referred to as the Grant of Probate.

Obtaining probate is not restricted to solicitors and it is becoming increasingly common for the appointed executors to try and complete the process without any legal assistance.

So, why do people choose to use Bright Solicitors? One of the main reasons is because executors have a personal liability to deal with the affairs in a timely and competent manner, in line with the law and failure to do so can lead to them being penalised personally. As rare as this may be, it does happen from time to time and our litigation department has had to offer advice on a number of occasions to executors where they are being questioned about their conduct or decisions

Some of the other reasons why Bright Solicitors are asked to assist include:

  • Free initial advice – To remove that initial worry at an already stressful time, Bright Solicitors will give some initial guidance and advice free of charge.
  • A solicitor led service – All of our advice is given by appropriately qualified and experienced professionals.
  • An ‘at home’ service – It is often more convenient and less stressful for clients to meet us in their own home. This can usually be arranged.
  • A fixed fee probate solution – Where the affairs appear relatively straightforward we will always confirm our fees before we are instructed to act and our fees are fixed from the outset for our client’s peace of mind.

Many firms of solicitors calculate their charges for dealing with the legal aspects of Probate by way of an hourly rate and on top of that some even apply a ‘value fee’ which is calculated as a percentage of the overall estate. Bright Solicitors do not subscribe to either of these methods where the estate appears relatively straightforward. We work on a fixed fee so that our clients know from the outset the costs and charges that are involved.

In a nutshell, when I visit the supermarket and put £50 worth of shopping in my trolley, this is what I expect to be charged at the checkout. No hidden surprises or catches.

For more information, please give us a call on 01752 388883.