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    Need-to-knows about wills and probate

    If you’ve been named the executor of an estate of a loved one who has died, you will have to start the probate process. This is basically managing the deceased’s legal and financial affairs, which includes the reading of the will. 

    You can undertake the probate process without legal assistance, but it is complex and something that you may have to repeat if you make the smallest of mistakes. At the same time, complications arise for various reasons, which is why family members hire probate solicitors Emsworth.  

    When do I need a lawyer? 

    It’s worth being advised by a lawyer in any of the scenarios below

    • What if the will is disputed? 

    This may occur for two reasons. Firstly, when family members debate the validity of the will. Secondly, when specific loved ones have been deliberately left out of the will.  

    A probate lawyer may be needed for both cases as the voice of reason and to diffuse a tense situation. Or as legal representation, if there are no other ways to settle the matter but before a judge in a courtroom.   

    • Complex arrangements 

    Are the deceased’s assets held in a trust? You’ll need the advice of a lawyer if this is the case.  

    • When the estate is insolvent and bankrupt 

    What does ‘insolvent’ mean? When a person’s debts are more significant than their assets. A situation like the one mentioned above can be highly stressful because creditors will demand what’s owed to them.  

    How do you find a probate lawyer? 

    Typically, the same legal firm which compiled the deceased’s will can take on the task. However, if you decide to shop around instead, check out The Law Society’s directory of solicitors in England.  

    How much is the cost of a probate lawyer? 

    For your information, the fees of a lawyer usually come out of the estate, so as the executor of the will, this is not something you will pay out of your pocket.  

    Lawyers are hesitant about giving a total figure but will provide an amount based on averages, which is a rough estimate of what you could pay.  

    When approaching law firms, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire to give them an accurate picture of the work involved. This way, you hopefully won’t be left with a bill that is way over budget.  

    Are there scenarios where DIY probate is recommended? 

    Generally, DIY probate work is not encouraged, especially with complicated estates.  

    However, if you want to save money, are clued up on probate law, do not mind lots of paperwork, and are dealing with an estate that is straightforward in resolving, you may be able to undertake the task yourself.  

    • What tasks are you responsible for? 

    Your responsibilities as the executor of the will include but are not limited to:   

    • Valuing the estate 
    • Applying for the grant of probate 
    • Administering the estate, which means that you’re in charge of gathering assets and distributing them to the intended beneficiaries.  

    What happens if the deceased dies without a will? 

    Intestacy refers to when the deceased has no will, whereby their assets are divided according to standard intestacy law. 

    These rules determine who gets what based on family relationship structure, not who is closest to the deceased or who needs it the most – which could make things problematic.  

    For the most part, spouses inherit the majority of what is left behind, unless the partner is unmarried – in which case, they get nothing.  

    Who becomes the executor of the estate? 

    You can apply for the position, acting on behalf of the deceased. Your role will be identical to the one mentioned above, valuing the estate, settling debts, and more.  

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