With more than 60 years of experience behind us here at Farleys Solicitors, you can count on our experts to make the entire Wills, Trust & Probate process go as smoothly and efficiently for you as possible.
It’s not unusual to assume that making a Last Will and Testament is something that only needs to be done in the later stages of life. Some people may not ever consider writing a Will at all.
However, a Will is vitally important to help you ensure your legacy in the event of your passing, safeguarding your property and assets and making sure that your loved ones are properly cared for – including your children, spouse or civil partner, and other immediate relatives. For these reasons alone, it’s worth making Will sooner rather than later.
That’s where we can help. At Farleys we’ve got all the passion, skills and in-house expertise we need to handle every aspect of the process for you from start to finish, so that you can enjoy complete peace of mind.
There are lots of worthwhile reasons to make a Will, but some of the most compelling include the following:
Above all, a properly drawn up Will can give you proper peace of mind. You’ll be able to make provisions for your partner and immediate family, and rest safe in the knowledge that your wishes will be carried out, and your assets divided accordingly – including your personal possessions, bank accounts, cash, investments, pensions, and property.
If a valid Will is not in force at the time of your death, your Estate will instead default to the rules of Intestacy. Intestacy requires an Administrator to act on behalf of your Estate, and may require a ‘Letter of Administration’ to serve as proof that they have the legal right to deal with your Estate.
Intestacy law sets out the standard legal procedure for dividing a person’s Estate if that person dies without leaving a valid Will. It primarily ensures that your Estate will be passed on to your spouse and blood relatives. According to the law in England and Wales, this includes your spouse and children (both direct relatives and any you’ve legally adopted), your siblings (whether full blood or half siblings), as well as your uncles and aunts (full blood or half blood) and your parents and grandparents.
However, Intestacy is not necessarily the most desirable option in most cases, since it does not legally recognise step children, and has stricter requirements for unmarried cohabitees to become Beneficiaries than it does for married couples. This means that if you are not married to your partner at the time of your death, they may encounter significant obstacles to becoming Beneficiaries of your Estate, and may even be denied certain (or all) assets as a result.
It’s not unheard of for these sorts of situations to result in financial hardship and distress for the loved ones concerned. What’s more, it can even result in your Estate passing to family members with whom you may have become estranged, or others whom you would not have knowingly chosen to benefit. Finally, intestacy does not always distribute assets in the most tax efficient way.
A properly drafted Will is the best way to mitigate the risks of these sorts of scenarios. A specialist Probate Solicitor can ensure that your wishes are honoured to the letter, so that you can conclusively identify the intended Beneficiaries of your Estate beyond all legal doubt.
The specialist skills and expertise of a professional Solicitor is the safest and most reliable way to ensure that your wishes are properly recorded, communicated and carried out to the letter. Most importantly, a Solicitor is best equipped to help you ensure that there is no confusion as to who should benefit from your Estate, avoiding potentially costly and distressing disputes further down the line.
A Solicitor can also help you manage any complicating factors relating to your individual family situation, or that of your assets. Second marriages are one example that can present complex legal dilemmas concerning spouses and children, and a Solicitor can help you navigate the difficulties associated with these sorts of situations, enabling you to reach a satisfactory outcome.
It’s also wise to consult a professional Solicitor if you possess any complicated assets like businesses, overseas properties, or multiple investments like bonds, pensions, stocks or ISAs. Only your known assets are divided when apportioning your Estate, so a Solicitor can help you ensure that none of these assets fail to be accounted for through omission (which can sometimes prevent your chosen Beneficiaries from claiming them).
During our Estate Planning Service, we’ll take the time to go through all aspects of the probate process with you (including your assets and intended Beneficiaries) so that we can devise an inheritance solution that’s best for you.
Our expertise also allows us to make recommendations on the most efficient way to account for Inheritance Tax through the provisions in your Will.
Recent years have seen a gradual rise in the availability of ‘DIY Wills’, which is a catch-all term used to refer to generic cookie-cutter documents that are advertised on the Internet at suspiciously low prices. Unfortunately, these often create more problems than they solve.
There are several key reasons for this, but they all link back to the fact that the average DIY Will typically contains a broad range of unpredictable flaws and shortcomings, which is a serious problem in an area where even the slightest ambiguity can result in lengthy legal disputes. Some of these flaws include (but aren’t limited to:)
For these reasons alone, it’s vital to ensure that your Will is properly prepared and regularly updated by a qualified professional Solicitor. This can help to avoid unnecessary confusion, minimise disputes, and ensure that your legacy is properly carried out.
Farleys Solicitors LLP is a friendly, trusted, and straight-talking local firm of authorised and regulated Wills and Probate Solicitors, with over 50 years of experience in serving clients in Manchester and the wider North West area. Our experts draw upon a wealth of knowledge and industry-specific expertise in order to answer all of your most pressing questions regarding Wills, Trust and Probate.
At Farleys Solicitors, we know that every situation is unique. That’s why, in addition to advising you on the best course of action, we also tailor our services to meet your specific needs when dealing with probate. We may even choose to take your case on a no-win, no-fee basis.
If you need to speak with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors about any of our services, feel free to give us a call on 0845 050 1958, contact us using the online chat feature on our website, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!
When a person doesn’t leave a Will, their estate must be divided according to a strict set of rules, called ‘intestacy’ whereby only m...Read More
What is Probate?
The legal definition of Probate refers to the legal process of organising, administering, and distributing a deceased person’s estate, once all taxes and debts are cleared. It’s worth noting that only the named Executor of a Will has the legal power to apply for a Grant of Probate. However, Probate doesn’t always apply in cases of intestacy.
How long does Probate take?
It’s difficult to give a precise answer to that, as every case is different. Generally, the Probate process can take anywhere between 6 months to a full year, although particularly complex cases may indeed take several years.
The timescale of the process can be affected by a number of different factors, including:
The complexity of the Will
The number or complexity of the debts
The complexity of the distribution to the various beneficiaries
When is Probate Required?
Probate is required for any Last Will and Testament that concerns an estate which includes at least one piece of property.
You may not need Probate if:
The estate is solely comprised of cash assets, including cars, furniture or jewellery
The estate is below a certain minimum size
The estate is insolvent
There are joint assets involved
This last point is the most common situation in which Probate will not be required. If the deceased jointly owned assets such as property, bank accounts, pension benefits or life insurance policies, then these assets are likely to pass to the surviving joint owner.
The only condition where Probate is consistently not required is in cases of intestacy - in other words, when someone dies without a Will. These are governed by a different set of rules and regulations.
Do I need a Solicitor to handle Probate?
It depends on whether or not the Solicitor in question was named an Executor in the Will.
If the Solicitor was named as an Executor, then yes, you’ll need them to handle Probate.
(Naming a Solicitor or LLP is a common practice for Wills in the UK, especially where large estates are concerned. This is primarily due to the complexity and precise timing required to efficiently complete the Probate process.)
If a Solicitor isn’t named as the Executor in the Will though, the choice as to whether or not to use their services is all up to you. If you’re the named Executor on a Will with one asset or few debits, you may find it financially beneficial to forgo the services of a Solicitor, as it can leave you with more money for the distribution of the estate. However, handling it personally is a time consuming process, requiring high levels of organisation - and mistakes can be costly.
On balance, we’d generally recommend using the services of a Solicitor when dealing with Probate.
How do I apply for Probate?
If you’re acting on your own behalf (i.e. without the services of a Solicitor), you can apply for Probate using the official online application form PA1P. As part of your application, you’ll need to send original documents directly to the probate registry.
The list of documents required to be granted Probate will be sent to you directly by the HM Courts and Tribunals Service. There may be cases where an online application form can’t be completed, in which case you’ll then need to complete the PA1P on paper instead, and mail it in (with all original documents).
If you’re using the services of a Solicitor, they can gather all the documents you need, and submit the Probate application on your behalf.
How much does Probate cost?
The cost of Probate depends largely on whether you’re using a Solicitor to handle the process, or if you’re going direct to HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
Here at Farleys Solicitors, our costs will vary accordingly depending on the complexity of the Estate, and the duration it takes to sell any property.
The base cost for Probate will typically range from £1950 to £3900 (+VAT). It will then include several additional costs, as outlined below. (The estimated number of hours required to eat with the administration of the estate ranges between 10 to 20 hours, at a cost of £195 per hour.)
It’s important to note that if there’s only one beneficiary and no property, the cost of Probate will likely be at the lower end of the range. If there are multiple beneficiaries, or at least one property, or multiple bank accounts, the costs are likely to be accordingly higher.
Are there any additional costs associated with Probate?
Yes, but not all of these additional costs are necessarily required in each and every case. Potential additional costs are as follows:
Probate application fee - £155.00
Additional copies of the Grant may be required per asset - £0.50 (per copy)
Swearing of the oath, per Executor - £7.00
Swearing of the oath, per Administrator - £5.00 (where there is no will)
Bankruptcy-only search fee - £2.00 per beneficiary (additional fees apply if any beneficiary is resident abroad)
Advertisement in the London Gazette - £83.00
Advertisement in the Local Newspaper - £107.00
To protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors
For the most accurate costings, specific to your situation and circumstances, we’d recommend that you give us a quick call on 0845 050 1958, and we’ll be happy to give you all the answers you need.
What is the cost of writing a Will?
The costs of writing a Will can vary according to a wide range of factors and circumstances related to your case.
The complexity of your estate
The number of beneficiaries
Any other provisions you may require
If you need professional legal advice, or you’d like a Solicitor to draft your Last Will & Testament, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0845 050 1958. Our friendly experts are ready to take your call!
Who is an Executor on a Will?
In legal terms, the Executor is a named person in a Will who is responsible for handling the estate through the process of Probate. Some Executors are Solicitors, but not all.
One of the Executor’s responsibilities includes notifying the banks of the deceased person so that they can freeze all of the associated accounts, and will ensure that their assets (for example, properties) are not sold until a Grant of Probate has been initiated.
Once the Executor has been granted Probate, they’re then empowered to collect the assets, pay all outstanding debts, and distribute the assets according to the Beneficiaries outlined in the Will.
Probate is typically a long and complex process, so it’s not unusual for Executors to hire a specialist probate Solicitor to act on their behalf.
What to do before you see a Solicitor
Before you seek legal advice for Wills, Trusts, or Probate, it’s a good idea to take stock of exactly which relevant documents you’ve got. That way, your Solicitor will be able to advise you of which additional documents you’ll need to complete the process. You may find that sometimes, the documentation required is a bit obscure, and it may require you to wait a period of time before it can be completed or obtained.
Plus, in order to set out clear provisions in your Will, you’ll also need to know business earnings if you own a business, have access to any mortgages (if any), a list of your investments, a list of known debts (if any) and some idea of who you’d like to Execute your Will, if it’s different from your spouse or children.
It’s also prudent to give some thought to what might happen to your estate in a worst-case scenario - such as if you and your spouse or partner both pass away.
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