Wills & Probate
Making a will does not need to be complicated or time consuming, and every adult should have one.
Fiona Goode, a Wills and Probate Solicitor, can assist in preparing your will or dealing with an estate if someone has died.
However many people put off making a will thinking that their wishes will be followed. This is not necessarily the case. In particular co-habitees and step children do not automatically inherit under the rules which apply when there is no will. A will ensures your wishes are set out clearly and avoids costly and time consuming disputes.
A will needs to comply with statutory requirements in relation to signature. Where we prepare the will we ensure these are complied with.
Our solicitors will guide you through the process and answer any questions you have. We have a fixed fee for straight forward wills so that you know the cost at the outset. If required a home visit can be arranged.
Please telephone or use the contact form for an individual quotation and to discuss your needs.
Our wills and probate services.
When a person dies a grant of probate or letters of administration is required to enable the assets to be released and distributed. Let us assist you in handling the legal procedures and gathering of the assets.
We charge for this work on the basis of the work involved regardless of the size of the estate. We do not charge any additional fee based on a percentage of the estate. A free initial interview is available to discuss the process. Fiona Goode will normally deal with the administration of your estate. To provide guidance and transparency in relation to our charges we have prepared the guide below.
Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about Wills and Probate.
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Who can make a Will?
To make a valid Will you must be 18 or over and have the required ‘mental capacity’. This means that the person wishing to create a Will must have an understanding of the nature of their actions and its effects and the extent of their property.
What is an executor?
An executor has various responsibilities under a Will, which can be time consuming. Responsibilities include:
- paying of the deceased’s debts
- organising funeral expenses
- arrangements for the deceased’s home, for example valuation and sale
- establishing assets
- paying beneficiaries and legatees in accordance to the Will
Who can be an executor?
A member of your family, your partner, a friend or solicitor may act as your executor. The executor must be over the age of 18.
How many executors can I have?
Can executors be beneficiaries?
How can I revoke my former Will?
A Will can be cancelled simply by creating a new Will which states that all previous Wills are revoked. Your current Will will be automatically revoked if you marry or enter into a Civil Partnership.
A clause may be added to stipulate that your current Will is not to be revoked by your intention to marry or enter into a civil partnership with the named partner.
Alternatively, a Will can be revoked by destruction, for example, by burning, tearing or otherwise.
Who can witness my Will?
You must sign the will in the presence of two independent witnesses who both watch you sign the will and then they must sign the will under your signature in your presence and in the presence of each other.
Any independent person may witness your Will. Independent means that they must not be related to the maker of the Will or be a beneficiary under the Will, or married to or a civil partner of any of the beneficiaries.
It does not have to be a solicitor; it can be a neighbour or friend. However at John Birkby & Co we will witness your will.
What happens to my Will once I have signed it?
Once you have signed your Will and had it witnessed as part of the Will service, John Birkby & Co will then store your original Will in our Wills safe and then provide you with a copy.
What happens if I do not make a Will?
A Will allows you to specify how you wish your estate to be administered once you pass away. If you have not made a Will when you die your estate (all that you own at the date of your death) will pass under the ‘Intestacy Rules’. These rules decide who should be entitled to your estate. It is important to note that these rules only apply to property that would normally pass under a Will had a Will been made.
What is Probate?
Probate is only granted where the deceased left a Will. The grant of probate of the Will is a Court Order that gives the executors of the Will the right to deal with the assets and property of the person who has died. For example, when you show the grant of probate to a bank they know they are dealing with the person who is allowed to handle the estate and they will allow you to close the deceased’s account.
Who takes charge if there is no Will?
If the deceased did not make a Will, their estate will be shared out under the “rules of intestacy”. These rules set out who deals with the estate and who benefits from it. There is a strict order of entitlement and we will advise as to who is entitled.
Where there is no Will the Court Order is known as a grant of letters of administration (as opposed to a grant of probate where there is a Will) and the persons appointed by the grant of letters of administration are known as administrators (as opposed to executors where there is a Will). You apply for a grant of letters of administration in the same way as you would apply for probate.
Do you always need to get a grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration?
In some cases you do not need to apply for a grant. This is when the person who has died left very little (usually under £20,000) or else everything they own was held in joint names with someone whose share automatically passes to them.
How do you apply for Probate or Letters of Administration?
The application is made online to the Probate Registry. The original Will is retained by the Probate Registry.
Once probate has been granted the Will becomes a matter of public record. Unless there has been any objection to the application lodged at the Probate Registry, the application generally takes around 4-8 weeks once it has been submitted.
The Probate Registry will charge a fixed fee of £273 in respect of the application.
If there is inheritance tax payable then the Inland Revenue Account for inheritance tax purposes must be submitted 20 working days before the application for the grant of probate or letters of administration. If there is no inheritance tax payable then an Inland Revenue Account may not be required but an accurate estimate of the estate’s value is reported as part of the probate application.
Do all executors need to apply for Probate?
No. If an executor wishes to stand down then they can renounce probate and take no further part in the administration. However, they can only renounce probate if they have not intermeddled in the administration of the estate up to that point. If they have taken any part in the administration of the estate then they cannot then stand down.
Alternatively, power can be reserved to an executor. This means that the executor to whom power is reserved does not join in the application for the grant of probate. It does not mean they have renounced their right to be an executor completely, but instead that they have reserved the power to extract a grant in the future if they wished to do so.If an executor named in the Will has predeceased the testator then their appointment lapses.
Where possible please let us have a copy of the death certificate of the executor who has died.
How long will it take?
It is impossible to give an answer to this question, as it will vary from one estate to another. It will generally depend upon how complicated the estate is and how many assets there are. For a straightforward estate we expect matters to be concluded within 6-8 months and where Inheritance Tax is payable within 9-12 months.
How much will it cost?
We charge on the basis of the time spent administering the estate, which means that our charges for administering a large estate consisting of one or two assets may be less than dealing with a small estate with shares and several beneficiaries.
Full information is set out in our guide to probate fees.
Guide to Probate Fees
Wills & Probate
Power of Attorney
Contact us to discuss your Wills & Probate needs.
0161 626 5686