What should I do when someone has passed away?

The first step is to register the death and arrange the funeral. Then, it is important to secure any property owned by the deceased and ensure it has insurance cover. Any valuable possessions should be removed for safe keeping.

Our telephone advice service is free of charge, and our advisers will discuss with you the requirements specific to your circumstances. If we are dealing with the administration, we can also deal with those first steps for you if required.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal authority allowing the named executor to deal with the deceased’s affairs. They apply to the Court and obtain a Grant of Probate. Where there is no Will, one of the beneficiaries applies to the Court and acts under of Letters of Administration.

Both a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration are commonly referred to as “Probate.” Without obtaining a Grant, you cannot usually sell or deal with any of the deceased’s assets or close any accounts or transfer funds. It is therefore a vital step in the Estate Administration process.

Do I need Probate?

It will depend on what assets the deceased had at the time of death. If the deceased owned any property or has cash assets greater than £5,000 then probate will usually be required.

When you notify the deceased’s bank or other investment holders after death, they will normally confirm if they require probate to release of funds.

How do I get Probate?

You can apply personally to the Probate Court, there will be various documents to complete including Inheritance Tax returns and you will be required to attend at Court for interview.

Alternatively you can appoint a professional to act on your behalf, such as Accord Legal Services. We would then apply to court and prepare all of the necessary documents and you are not required to attend the interview at Court.

Why Should I use a professional?

It is usually much quicker to obtain Probate through a professional due to the time taken to arrange the Court interview if a personal application is made. Accord Legal Services are experts in obtaining Probate quickly and simply.

The role of Executor or Administrator is difficult and time consuming. We can ease that burden, we also have the expertise to deal with complex matters that may arise. In the event of a dispute or challenge in relation to the estate, it is often preferable for an independent professional to deal with the estate administration to ensure fairness and transparency.

Do I have to use the solicitor or company who drafted the Will?

No, the Executor may instruct any professional of their choice. However, it may be a good idea to use the company who drafted the Will as they will be more familiar with the deceased’s circumstances.

I can’t find the Will- what should I do?

If you believe that there is a Will in existence but cannot find it, you should make a thorough search of the property initially. Thereafter if it still cannot be found further investigations would need to be made with any organisations where the deceased held assets or accounts and with the organisation who prepared the will.

If you have a copy of the Will (but not the original), we may be able to proceed using the copy, however the Probate rules are complex. In such cases please telephone to speak to one of our probate specialists who will provide free initial advice.

What are your fees?

At Accord Legal Services, we do not charge any fees until we have discussed and agreed a fixed fee for the level of service you need. Our bereavement line provides free initial advice to help you determine whether or not you need to obtain Probate and thereafter advise you accordingly.

Contact us and we will be able to discuss what you need and if we can help. If you would like to use our professional services we can agree the level of fees before any work commences. The Estate bears the costs of any probate fees, which are charged on conclusion of the administration procedure.

I am named as Executor but I don’t want to act, what should I do?

Many people decide that the role of Executor is too much to undertake, especially going through the difficult time of loosing a loved one. Alternatively you may be named as an executor in a Will made many years ago by the deceased and are no longer in touch with the family and just don’t feel its right to be involved. Whatever the reason rest assured that you can renounce your role provided that you have not ‘intermeddled’ in the estate administration – which means if you have started to deal with the estate, you cannot renounce. If you do wish to renounce you need to do this as early as possible after the death. We can help with this, contact us for guidance on the next steps.

What is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax is a tax paid by the Executors of the estate based on the value of the Estate at death. It is charged at 40% on all assets above the ‘nil rate band’ threshold which is currently £325,000.

How long does Probate take?

The time taken varies from estate to estate and depends on; the assets held by the deceased, if there is a property, if there are any disputes in regards to the will and whether there was a will at all.

If there is an Inheritance tax liability then this may also delay the process as a tax return needs to be completed the tax paid, make final returns and adjustments. And finally wait for a ‘clearance’ certificate from the revenue before you can distribute the estate.

Most probates can be finalised within 6 months; however where any of the above issues apply this can take between 9-12 months to fully administer. We aim to get the Grant of Probate as soon as possible which allows access to available funds. We may then make interim payments to beneficiaries as soon as possible, rather than them waiting for everything to be finalised before they receive their legacy.