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We need a probate solicitor and haven't the faintest where to start(20 Posts)
Sorry about your MIL.
I'd find one local to you. Either ask if anyone can recommend or find in Yellow Pages.
Although many people prefer to have a solicitor to do probate, it's actually not difficult to do yourselves, obviously depending on the assets that he left.
My mother had some shares, a few different bank accounts, a house and a will.
It was actually quite easy to fill in the required facts/figures on the form. The Probate helpline of the HMRC were extremely helpful with any questions we had. I seem to remember I had to go to the local court to get them stamped (or something like that). It was all processed quite quickly.
Also, I'd made a mistake and put some share details twice by mistake (because of shares changing hands by takeovers) and they adjusted it and refunded us the £ difference. So it really wasn't too difficult. We did it about 6 months after my mum had died, so I was able to cope with doing it by then. My brother was the only other person benefiting (and our children) and there was no particular rush/need to sell her property. (We just had to get a couple of valuations for probate).
Our probate solicitor charged £600. It does not matter if they are local. Most of the work was done by post. When it came to signing the Oath we were advised to take it to a local solicitor. One document cost £11 and another cost £6. The local solicitor also did something else for us regarding a different deceased relative, as they ran a half an hour 'free of charge' service on Saturday Mornings.
I found the Probate Office really helpful with enquiries. We had PoA and a property held In Trust to deal with. So I would certainly ring them first, for advice, I do know people who have done it themselves. All said it was easy.
Also my Brother and I were the only beneficiaries and he lives abroad. he just had to sign to say that he was happy for me to sign all the documents. He did not have to return to England.
My advice is to make copies of everything you send and copies of all documents relating to your mum's affairs. We had a query from the DWP several months after my Mum's death, the letter and subsequent phone call was very upsetting.
We had to get estimates of the value of my mums house when she died. When it was sold 8 months later it raised £75000 more than the. Original valuation. I thought they were implying that we had lied. I phoned the Probate Solicitor and for no extra charge she told me how to word the letter of reply and to send the original valuations from Eastate Agent.
Why do you need a solicitor?We have had both mums died recently and we did it ourselves, both involved selling family homes, although neither were above the tax threshold, but there were investments involved as well.
It really isnt that complicated, the forms are online so look at those first.
Our biggest nightmare was Barclays bank when trying to set up executor account. They were truelly awful. We only used them because my mums account was with them to start with.
My local Barclays were awful too and any phone calls to them were twice as complicated as they needed to be. All the other banks/building societies we dealt with were SO much better!
I know we're all encouraging you to go it alone but, of course, you may not have the time or the inclination. In the great scheme of things, £500-1,000 isn't very much. You will need to provide the solicitor with necessary paperwork but they'll do the rest. Good luck
We didn't have much luck with Nationwide either - the only account they would allow was a book account, so we used that for things that we absolutely had to and used our current account for the rest or had it payable to the beneficiaries. Doesn't matter as long as it is accounted for properly (and we had no tax problems to deal with).
Which used to do a good Guide to Wills and Probate.
Dont use a probate solicitor, it is very straightforward to do yourselves. Mum died last year and I knew her will was with a given solicitor practice. They tried to tell us they would do probate, but I gave them a polite, 'No thanks we will do it ourselves'.
The problem is, unless solicitors are executors, rather than your DH/SIL, you will still need to do the leg work of finding out all her account details, paperwork etc, yourselves. The solicitor wont go to house and do it, they will expect executors to find details and pass them on.
Once you have the paperwork/account details, it is very simple to fill the probate form in. A basic spreadsheet for all figures will help!
You will need a house valuation and valuations of any sellable goods. We knew that very few of mums goods would be sellable, so we put a basic figure in, £500 or so. Obviously if there are valuables, they may need a proper valuation.
Assuming your DH and SIL are both executors, they can both be named on probate form, in which case both will need to sign, or your SIL can reserve the right to be an executor, in which case only your DH signs (but if something happened to your DH, she could still take over in the future).
If they have a good relationship, it sounds like the latter would work best. (Both DB and I were named and signed, but I did all legwork, I just wanted us both signing as he is a manipulative nasty person who could quite well have questioned something later).
Signing can be done at a solicitors, or through a probate office, which are dotted around the country. I travelled to London, where DB lives, from Cheshire for the day, as it was easier than him going to mums house. We were in Probate office for about 20mins!
As for executors account, we didn't bother. All of her money was with Halifax, they were willing to transfer it into any account (we used a semi-dormant one of mine) as long as both DB and I signed to say thats where we wanted money to go and sent that letter in with Probate certificate. Fortunately I could afford to pay any ongoing bills, and then just claimed that back from the joint money before splitting. You need to keep records and receipts.
After house sale, solicitors did two bank transfers, one to each of us.
With regard to household bills, I contacted the Probate department of gas, electric and water. They were really helpful. They froze the account until probate was granted. So no bills needed paying. I also reduced the House insurance to Buildings only, you will have to tell them The house is empty. They were also very good at explaining the various options. I think we were covered for 3 months then had an option of 'buy back cover' if the house sale took longer
Another voice to say that doing probate is really very straightforward, if there is a will. Everyone was very helpful. I agree with PP that once you have put together the list of all the assets and debts (which the solicitors will require) , you might as well transfer it to the form.
Even without a will, a search service will be quicker, and cheaper, than solicitors.
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