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Advice on specific issues

Probate is the process of collecting together someone's money and property after they have died (their estate) and dividing it between those entitled to it (the beneficiaries).

The people who do this are the Personal Representatives. If the person who has died has left a Will then the people who are to be the Personal Representatives will usually have been named in the Will. In that case they can also be called 'Executors'. In any other case they can be called 'Administrators'. There are rules setting out who can be an Administrator, usually a close relative.

Probate will usually involve the following stages:

  • Finding out the value of the estate i.e. how much is left in Bank and Building Society accounts, the value of the home, any shares etc.

  • Working out and paying inheritance tax (which depends on the value of the estate).

  • Applying for a Court document called a 'Grant of Probate' which gives permission to the Personal Representatives to close the Bank and Building Society accounts and sell the home, shares etc.

  • Actually closing the Bank and Building Society accounts, selling the home and shares, etc. (if this is what the beneficiaries have agreed).

  • Preparing an account showing the value of the estate, how this has been made up, and to whom it is going to be distributed.

  • Distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.

How long all of this takes depends not so much on the value of the estate but how complicated it is, i.e. how many accounts, properties, etc. there are, whether any are abroad, and so on. Something like 6 to 12 months is not unusual, but nor is l8 months or longer.

The legal costs involved will depend on both the value of the estate and how complicated it is. A very rough guideline is 1% of the value of the estate plus government taxes such as VAT, inheritance tax and Probate fees.

For further information:

Please contact our Probate Manager Tom Coyne who has over 25 years experience of this type of work:

For general information on inheritance tax try:

N.B. for information only - this guide does not replace the advice of a solicitor.

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