Frequently asked questions on Probate at Assured Legacies

Q. Do I need a Grant of Probate?

A. As a rule of thumb if the deceased left any single assets in their SOLE name in excess of 5,000 then a Grant will be required. If not or the assets are in joint names and pass by survivorship a Grant may not be required.

Q. What is a Grant of Representation?

A. In essence it is the same as a Grant of Probate but is issued when the deceased did not leave a valid Will i.e. died intestate.

Q. What do they actually do?

A. They confirm the authority of the executors or personal representatives to administer the estate. If a Grant is needed without it would be impossible to deal with financial and other institutions e.g. the Land Registry and the Inland Revenue.

Q. What does getting a Grant entail?

A. Basically gathering the information required to complete a Probate application form and an Inland Revenue form (either the short form if there is no Inheritance Tax liability or the considerably more complex long form if there is), submitting these to the Probate Registry and then, by appointment, attending the Registrar (normally in court) to swear the oath.

Q. Do I have to employ a professional to carry out this work?

A. Absolutely not. Depending on the circumstances there is nothing to stop you carrying out the whole process yourself although in many cases not getting professional help could easily prove to be a false economy.

Q. How do I know whether it's advisable to employ a professional?

A. Generally speaking when there is a small simple estate where a Grant is not needed or more or less everything passes by survivorship, there is no Inheritance Tax liability or potential future liability and no foreseeable complications then there is no need to employ professional help. Depending on your experience, expertise and the time available to you to complete forms, engage in correspondence with financial and other institutions, hold appointments, prepare accounts and tax submissions it could be possible for you to deal with more complex estates.

Q. When is it most likely to be false economy to undertake the work myself?

A. Unless you have considerable experience (in which case you would be unlikely to be reading these FAQs) if the estate has an Inheritance Tax liability or potential future liability, offshore accounts, multiple assets and/or liabilities, exclusions, complex relationships, property sales, trust funds, etc. the time and money saved by employing a professional could easily out way the costs.

Q. So what would the costs be?

A. These can vary tremendously depending on the complexity of the estate and the amount of work involved. It is always advisable to get a firm quotation either as a fixed figure or a percentage of the estate. Hourly rates are invariably difficult to quantify and fees can often spiral alarmingly.

Q. Can I get specific advice on my particular circumstances?

A. Of course, this is essential, everybody's situation is unique.