Legal Information Centre


21 May 2009 by Mary Heaney

What does a probate lawyer do?

A probate lawyer assists in the legal administration of a deceased person's estate. The nature of the work done by a probate lawyer will depend on whether the deceased has left a will or not.


A probate lawyer assists in the legal administration of a deceased person's estate. The nature of the work done by a probate lawyer will depend on whether the deceased has left a will or not.



If a probate lawyer is dealing with a will




In this case one or more executors have already been appointed to administer the estate and the probate lawyer will apply to the probate registry on their behalf. The executer will then be given a grant of probate which permits them access to the deceased's assets and the ability to collect and share them out.



A probate solicitor can then assist the executor in the efficient administration of the estate.



If there is no will for the probate lawyer




If you are the next of kin, are not aware of the deceased having a will and have checked among their belongings and with a probate lawyer or bank they might have used then you can still apply to the court for the right to act as an executor of the estate under the rules of intestacy. In such a situation it can take a long time to administer the estate but to help your probate lawyer act as swiftly as possible it is useful to provide them with all the documentation you have regarding the deceased's assets.



Without a will the inheritance of the deceased's possessions and assets is decided according to the law. Some people may feel they deserve more than is provided for according to the rules and this is why it is important to make a will in the first place. A probate lawyer can assist you if you wish to make a claim for a financial provision. In such a situation your probate lawyer will need to be able to prove that you had a particular type of relationship with the deceased. This can be difficult if you were a co-habitee of the deceased but were not married or in a civil partnership.



When a probate lawyer is required




There is no need to consult a probate lawyer and apply for a grant of probate if the assets of the deceased were held in joint ownership. The assets would automatically pass to the individual with whom they were shared.



If this is not the case, and the deceased has left more than £5,000 or any stocks, shares, property or land, then a probate lawyer is required.



If the deceased also gave any large gifts within the 7 years before they died then a probate lawyer may be needed to help arrange the amount of inheritance tax to be paid.






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