Do You Need a Probate Solicitor?

Discover whether you need a probate solicitor and what they can do for you

Last updated: 16 March 2017

Some people prefer to manage their loved one’s estate by themselves. The greatest benefit of doing so is saving on solicitor fees. However, when the estate is complex or relationships between executors are beneficiaries are difficult, it may be wise to seek the help of a probate solicitor.

Below are several key reasons why hiring a solicitor may be the best option:

  • Time and effort. Managing the estate can take several months and even years, especially if the estate has complications. At times the process can be stressful and tiring. Hiring a solicitor can ease the burden of managing an estate for executors.
  • Legal responsibilities. Executors are legally responsible for collecting and distributing assets, as well as distributing the estate. A solicitor can ensure all requirements are correctly met.
  • Relationships with family. It is common for family members to disagree on how an estate should be managed. A solicitor can help you avoid conflict.
  • Complex estates. Some estates can have complicated issues that will be best understood and resolved by a professional (see below for more information).

Complex estates

Although you can act as an executor or an administrator without a solicitor, it is advisable to get legal assistance when the estate is considered to be complex, such as in the following situations:

  • If the will’s terms are unclear
  • When the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold of £325,000 and is not exempt from the tax
  • When the validity of the will is uncertain
  • When there is no will and the person who died was married with children and left an estate in England or Wales worth over £250,000
  • When it is an insolvent estate or there are doubts regarding the solvency of the estate
  • When your loved one had residence outside of the UK for tax purposes
  • If part of the estate will be passed on to a person under the age of 18
  • In case there is money and/or property from the estate in a trust
  • When the estate includes land and/or property abroad
  • If your loved one owned a business
  • When descendants are contesting a will due to being deliberately unnamed as a beneficiary

How much will it cost?

The solicitor and estate administration fees can be paid from the money in the estate, so these expenses won’t affect your personal savings.

Depending on the probate solicitor, the fees may be charged per hour or as a flat fee. In some cases both types of fee apply, although that does not mean their services are more expensive.

The costs for the service may depend on the estate’s worth – usually between 1% and 5% of the estate’s value plus VAT. Because of this, you should consider contacting various solicitors to compare their fees before making your decision.

There are also several expenses that will need to be paid, including the fee for applying for the grant of probate, which are usually not added in the initial budget but will be added to the final bill.

Finding a probate solicitor

Many law firms offer estate administration services, however, using a solicitor is not always necessary as there are other companies who also offer these services.

If you would like to find a solicitor to help manage an estate, it may be beneficial to reference these sources first:

Find out more about managing an estate.