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Probate information and advice

Probate advice and support for yourself or a loved one.

Probate support from Saga Legal

Saga Legal has partnered with Co-op Legal Services, who provide regulated legal services, helping to ensure you have the right level of support and protection for yourself and your family.

Co-op Legal Services provides comprehensive probate support, guiding clients through each step of the probate process and offering clear and practical advice. They can handle all the necessary paperwork, including obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, valuing the estate, settling debts with creditors, dealing with Inheritance Tax, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

By taking on responsibility for all the legal, tax and administrative work, Co-op Legal Services alleviates the burden on the executor or next of kin.

As the largest probate provider in the UK, Co-op Legal Services has extensive experience in the legal process of estate administration. Their specialist expertise ensures that the probate process is conducted efficiently and accurately, saving time and reducing potential errors.

Here and ready when you are

Whether you have questions about probate or just want to find out more, the expert team are on hand to help.

0800 096 0206

Mon - Thu 9:00am - 6:30pm
Fri - 9:00am - 5:30pm
Sat - 10am - 2pm
Sun - Closed
Excluding bank holidays

Get probate advice and support

When is probate needed?

Probate is the legal process of administering someone’s estate after they’ve died. This includes selling or transferring assets, calculating and paying tax, settling all outstanding debts and distributing the estate to those entitled to inherit it.

Probate isn’t always needed after someone has died. It depends on what the individual owned and how they owned it. If they owned a property in their sole name or had more than £20,000 in the bank, it’s likely that probate will be needed to deal with these assets.

If probate is needed, this can involve a significant amount of complex work, and whoever carries out this work could be held personally liable for any mistakes made.

Co-op Legal Services has extensive knowledge and experience in estate administration. This expertise ensures that the probate process is conducted efficiently and accurately, saving time and reducing potential errors.

Saga is a registered trading name of Saga Personal Finance Limited, which is registered in England and Wales (company number 3023493). Registered office 3 Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG. Saga is not authorised or regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). All legal services are provided by Co-op Legal Services. Co-op Legal Services is a trading name of Co-operative Legal Services Limited which is authorised and regulated by the SRA, under registration number 567391.

Get help with probate, from Saga Legal today

Co-op Legal Services offers free initial advice on whether you need probate, what’s involved and a no obligation fixed fee quote for their complete probate service.

Frequently asked questions

What is probate?

After someone dies, probate is the legal process of dealing with their property and financial affairs. Sometimes a legal document is needed to do this work, depending on what the person owned when they died. This legal document is what the term ‘probate’ commonly refers to.

Is probate needed if there's a will?

The need for probate doesn't depend on whether there's a will, it depends on the financial situation of the person who died. The probate process is very similar regardless of whether there's a will or not, but some of the terminology is different.

What is a grant of representation, grant of probate and grant of letters of administration?

In England and Wales, a grant of representation is the collective term for a legal document which allows you to deal with someone’s estate. This document is needed to take care of certain assets.

The specific legal document that’s needed depends on whether there is a will in place. If there is a will, the executors would need to apply for a grant of probate. If there isn’t a will, the next of kin would apply for a grant of letters of administration.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, different documents are used.

When is probate needed?

Whether probate is needed will depend on what assets are in the estate. Here are some common examples to give you an idea of whether you’re likely to need probate.

Owned their own home

  • owned a property in their sole name
  • the property can’t be sold or transferred without a grant of representation
  • you’ll likely need a grant of representation.

Owned joint assets

  • owned a house with someone else, or
  • kept savings in a joint account
  • these assets will simply transfer to the surviving owner
  • you may not need a grant of representation.

Owned other high-value assets

  • owned shares in their sole name, or 
  • had over £20,000 across their sole bank accounts (market average)
  • you’ll likely need a grant of representation.

Didn’t own many assets

  • didn’t own high value assets, and
  • had less than £20,000 across their bank accounts (market average)
  • you may not need a grant of representation.
Do I have to act as executor if I am named in a will?

No, you do not have to act as an executor. You have a couple of options. Your first option is to give up all rights to act as executor (as long as you haven't done any work on the estate administration).

Your other option, if there are other executors named in the will, is to choose to have 'power reserved'. This allows the other executors to act but you can apply to join in the probate process later on if you want to or need to.

You can also choose to instruct a probate solicitor to complete the probate work for you.

If you do act as executor, it's important that you understand the duties and responsibilities of an executor. If you make any mistakes, you could be held liable for these.

What's involved in probate?

The probate process can involve a lot of complicated legal, tax and financial work. This includes (but is not limited to):

  1. Identifying and locating all of the estate assets
  2. Establishing whether there is a will and locating this if so, or applying the rules of intestacy if not
  3. Identifying and contacting the beneficiaries of the estate
  4. Valuing the estate and calculating any tax due
  5. Liaising with HM Revenue & Customs and paying tax before the deadlines
  6. Applying for the grant of probate or grant of letters of administration
  7. Selling the estate assets
  8. Notifying potential creditors of the death
  9. Settling all liabilities (debts) on the estate
  10. Paying the final estate administration expenses and accounting to HM Revenue & Customs for any further Inheritance Tax, Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax due to or from the estate.
  11. Preparing estate accounts, showing all payments into and out of the estate
  12. Distributing the balance of the estate in line with the terms of the will or the rules of intestacy (providing there are no challenges to the estate or other complicating factors).

Whoever carries out this work can be held personally liable for any mistakes that are made during the estate administration.

How do I find out if there's a will?

When a will is made, the executors are usually told where the will is stored, but this isn't always the case. If a solicitor, lawyer or other professional has drafted the will, then it might be stored with them. 

A thorough search of the deceased person’s paperwork should be carried out to try to locate the will, or any reference to a will being held by a law firm or will writing company. There are also organisations that hold registers of wills. It’s possible to carry out a professional will search of these registers to see if the will in question has been listed on these registers. 

Before the will can be released, the executors have to prove that they are who they say they are, by providing proof of identity. They must also provide evidence of the death (by showing the death certificate).