Probate specialists

Probate specialists

This page was last updated on 1 October 2021

Probate Specialists In 2021

After the death of a family member or loved one, you may find yourself responsible for managing the estate of the deceased person. This is why you may want to use a probate specialist to help you.

It is important to consider whether you want help and advice in this process, or whether you can save money by doing it yourself.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

You can listen to an audio recording of this page below.

Can I do probate myself?

Yes, however, whether you want to depends on the complexity of the case and whether you have time.

How much does probate cost yourself?

It is much cheaper to do probate yourself, as probate services can cost thousands of pounds.

In England and Wales, if the deceased person’s estate is worth over £5000 after you have paid for their funeral costs and settled their debts, it costs £215 to apply for probate to HM Courts and Tribunals Service. If the deceased’s estate is worth less than this, the application is free.

Who can I use to help with the probate process?

You can get advice from either probate specialists or probate solicitors, or the bank the deceased used.

Here is a short video that explains more about how probate works.

When do I need a probate specialist?

  • While generally, you can do probate yourself, in some limited situations it is a good idea to use a professional. This includes where:
  • There is no will, so it is difficult to determine the person’s wishes
  • There are complexities like if the estate is bankrupt, the estate includes foreign property or assets, there are assets held on trust or the deceased lived out of the country for tax purposes
  • If it is not clear whether the will is valid, or there is likely to be  contentious probate
  • There is likely to be an Inheritance Act claim
  • The estate crosses the IT threshold of £325,000 and is still earning an income which also requires tax.

What are the advantages of appointing a probate specialist or solicitor?

There are many reasons you may want to appoint a probate specialist, beyond the cost. These include:

  • The death of a loved one is already a difficult time. You may not want to take on additional responsibility.
  • Probate is a time-consuming process. It is estimated applying for probate takes around 80 hours, therefore you may not have weeks to spare.
  • The probate process can be complex, especially reporting about inheritance tax to HMRC. It is essential to fill out these forms right, as correcting mistakes is expensive.  Using professional services can help avoid this.
  • You need legal help to deal with the property
 

What is a probate specialist?

A probate specialist is someone who is specially trained to give advice on probate. Probate specialists are normally trained accountants.

What is a probate solicitor?

Many law firms will have a special ‘Wills, Trusts, and Probate’ department.

Solicitors in this department can give you professional advice on how to deal with probate. Solicitors can also help with other legal matters, like creating a trust and looking at your rights under a will.

Either a specialist or a solicitor will be able to help you do probate quickly.

"Either a probate specialist and a solicitor can help you apply for probate and handle the estate administration. The difference is that probate solicitors have a legal background, whereas probate specialists are likely to be those with legal experience"

What is the difference between a probate solicitor and a probate specialist?

Either a probate specialist and a solicitor can help you apply for probate and handle the estate administration.

The difference is that probate solicitors have a legal background, whereas probate specialists are likely to be those with legal experience. One reason to opt for a probate solicitor is that you may want to use the solicitor who drew up the deceased person’s will. 

The advantage of using a probate specialist is that they are likely to be cheaper.

What services can a probate solicitor or specialist provide?

Beyond applying for the grant of probate or letters of administration, a professional can help with other parts of the estate administration.  This includes:

  • Arranging the funeral
  • Valuing assets
  • Paying any debts, both personal and commercial
  • Sorting out inheritance tax on assets
  • Alerting the pensions service about the death
  • Sorting out capital gains tax while the estate is being wrapped up
  • Selling or auctioning assets
  • Helping search for missing wills and documents
  • Advising on the sale of the home or other property
  • Collecting and distributing property between beneficiaries
  • Dealing with disputes, especially about rights under the Inheritance Act
  • Advise the executor or administrator about their legal duty when administering the estate
probate services

How much does it cost for a solicitor to deal with probate?

The cost of a probate lawyer will depend on the complexity of the issue, the amount of help you need with estate administration, and the rates of the firm you appoint.

The charge for a solicitor’s services is usually 3-5% of the value of the estate plus VAT. If there is an hourly rate of pay for the advice of a solicitor or specialist, this will depend on their pay grade.

Solicitors’ probate fees are authorised and regulated by the Law Society. The Law Society sets a base fee of 0.75% of the estate value, then 1.5% the financial value of any other assets and money.

How much will a specialist charge?

A probate specialist will generally charge between 1-5% of the value of the estate. Therefore, a probate specialist is often cheaper than a solicitor.

Who pays for probate?

The cost of probate is taken out of the estate, so the executor will not individually have to pay. However, the executor or administrator has a duty to the beneficiaries to save money.

Who else can handle probate?

Many banks have a probate service. Using a bank is the most expensive option, therefore it is not advised.

However, if the bank wrote the will, it might be easier for them to handle the probate process as they will already understand the case and relevant information.

 
probate specialist

Should I use the bank or solicitor named in the will?

You should not automatically use a bank or solicitor just because they are named in the deceased’s will as an executor. In fact, the fees for the named firm might be significantly more.

Banks especially tend to charge on a percentage basis which often works out as more. Generally, you have no obligation to use a firm just because it is named in a will. If asked, the firm should step down as an executor.

Otherwise, you might need to take them to court.

What should I look for in a probate solicitor?

One thing to look out for is what specialist legal qualifications the solicitor has.

The Law Society has a scheme for Wills and Inheritance quality, and probate solicitors who are members of the scheme will often have the letters TEP after their name.

If the case involves assets or property abroad, or the deceased lived abroad for tax reasons, you should get your solicitor to recommend a practitioner in that country to give advice do any necessary legal work in that jurisdiction.

How do I choose which probate specialist or solicitor I want to administer the estate?

It is a good idea to call a few different probate services to get a free quote.

Beyond considerations about price, you want someone you trust and get on well with whoever is dealing with probate, as you are going to have to work closely with them.

The price is often the most important factor in choosing a professional.  Some firms have a free probate cost calculator that will estimate how much probate will cost the estate. However, you have to bear in mind that the costs aren’t entirely predictable, for example, if probate becomes contentious.

How can I compare different probate fees?

It can be confusing to compare different services as their fees are in different formats and cover different services. Here are some elements to look out for:

  • Whether third party fees, like the probate application, are included.
  • Whether the charge is a fixed fee, a percentage share of the estate value, or an hourly rate. A fixed fee gives you more certainty over the eventual bill.
  • Whether VAT is included.
  • It is essential to know what work and services are included in the bill. Some firms or packages will just help you apply for the grant of probate. Others will go as far as helping you rehome pets and more personal matters.
  • How accurate the quote is. Generally, even fixed charges are an estimate and can change if the circumstances develop. As a guide, if there is a detailed questionnaire, the bill is likely to be more accurate.
  • When fees are payable. Some firms want money for third party costs and their work in stages. A fixed cost is likely to be payable once the process is done.

 

What other options are available to me?

It is not as black and white as either using probate services for everything or doing it all yourself.

You can do part of the process yourself, such as applying for a grant of probate and instruct a professional for another matter.

Some firms  offer what is called a ‘DIY Probate Pack.’ This gives you all the information you need to know, and documents required to do the process yourself.

What is probate negligence?

Probate negligence is where the probate solicitors cause their client financial loss by either error in their work, not following the correct procedure or missing time limits. In these instances, the executors or administrators have the right to claim compensation.

How do I find a probate solicitor or specialist?

When selecting a specialist, it is important to search around to find the best deal.

Sometimes it is easier to use the lawyer or the bank mentioned in the Will. However you are not obliged to use the named people or their business, and you may get a better deal or service elsewhere.

The Law Societies of England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all have directories to search for probate specialists and solicitors.

 

Would you like some help with the Probate process?

You can contact us in one of 3 ways:

  • Option 1 – Call us directly on – 0333 567 1608
  • Option 2 – Book an appointment directly in the calendar below, and one of the team will call you back at the chosen time
  • Option 3 – Leave us your contact details and we will get in touch

 

Option 1 – Call directly to discuss your probate support needs

Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, you can call us at any time that suits you.

Option 2 – Book an appointment, in the calendar below, for a Probate specialist to call you back when its convenient

Option 3 – Leave us your details and we will get in touch

Leave your contact details below and one of the team will give you a call to discuss your needs.

Please note that all calls are undertaken by Trust Inheritance, one of the UK’s leading probate specialists.

Article author

Katy Davies

I am a keen reader and writer and have been helping to write and produce the legal content for the site since the launch.   I studied for a law degree at Manchester University and I use that theoretical experience, as well as my practical experience as a solicitor, to help produce legal content which I hope you find helpful.

Outside of work, I love the snow and am a keen snowboarder.  Most winters you will see me trying to get away for long weekends to the slopes in Switzerland or France.

Email – katy@helpandadvice.co.uk

LinkedIn – Connect with me

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What Is Probate?

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Dealing With Contentious Probate

Contentious probate includes a variety of disputes, including a dispute over whether a will or codicil is valid, such as when you think there has been undue influence or the deceased person lacked capacity. However, there can be many reasons and this article sets out what you can do to challenge a probate process.

How To Find a Probate Specialist

After the death of a family member or loved one, you may find yourself responsible for managing the estate of the deceased person. This is why you may want to use a probate specialist to help you. This article will help you find a specialist to help you.

Probate Costs and Fees

The cost of probate varies, depending on the estate and who handles the process. The cost of probate has two main components; fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are essentially the application fee. This article sets out the different costs involved of doing it yourself or using a probate soliciutor or specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When do I need a probate specialist?

While generally, you can do probate yourself, in some limited situations it is a good idea to use a professional. This includes where there is no will, so it is difficult to determine the person’s wishes

  • What is a probate specialist?

A probate specialist is someone who is specially trained to give advice on probate. Probate specialists are normally trained accountants.

  • How much does it cost for a solicitor to deal with probate?

The cost of a probate lawyer will depend on the complexity of the issue, the amount of help you need with estate administration, and the rates of the firm you appoint.

The charge for a solicitor’s services is usually 3-5% of the value of the estate plus VAT. If there is an hourly rate of pay for the advice of a solicitor or specialist, this will depend on their pay grade.

  • Who pays for probate?

The cost of probate is taken out of the estate, so the executor will not individually have to pay. However, the executor or administrator has a duty to the beneficiaries to save money.

 

Would you like some help with the Probate process?

You can contact us in one of 3 ways:

  • Option 1 – Call us directly on – 0333 567 1608
  • Option 2 – Book an appointment directly in the calendar below, and one of the team will call you back at the chosen time
  • Option 3 – Leave us your contact details and we will get in touch

 

Option 1 – Call directly to discuss your probate support needs

Our lines are open Monday to Friday – 9:00 to 5:00

Option 2 – Book an appointment, in the calendar below, for a Probate specialist to call you back when its convenient

Option 3 – Leave us your details and we will get in touch

Leave your contact details below and one of the team will give you a call to discuss your needs.

Please note that all calls are undertaken by Trust Inheritance, one of the UK’s leading probate specialists.

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