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Wills & Probate Facts and Myths

Most of us don’t know a lot about the law of Wills or Probate.

The legalities of inheritance are often complex, long winded and intimidating but they don’t always need to be. Below are a few facts and myths surrounding the subject.

Fact: Will writing isn’t a regulated market

In 2016 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) wrote a report on the legal services market.

It found three different levels of regulation in will writing;

  • at a minimum level providers are subject to general consumer law;
  • regulated legal professionals are covered by wider professional regulations and are subject to additional requirements to protect consumers. These include access to the Legal Ombudsman, mandatory Professional Indemnity Insurance, training requirements and codes of conduct;
  • the CMA found that around only  half of unauthorised providers are signed up to be regulated by voluntary bodies. These include the Society of Will Writers and the Institution of Professional Willwriters which have similar requirements to those of regulated legal professionals. To be a member of a trade body, the will writer will have been trained in wills and estate planning.

So, if you are considering making a Will check that the service you choose meets the protection you require should anything go wrong.

Myth: I don’t need a Will – my spouse/partner will inherit everything

Without a Will your spouse will not automatically inherit all your assets. They will be distributed according to rules laid down by the law.

The person you view as your ‘Common Law’ husband or wife will not automatically inherit and may need to bring legal proceedings against those who do.

Fact: Probate applications can be made online

If you are name in someone’s will as an executor, you may have to apply for probate.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) now has an online service to allow executors of an estate in England and Wales to apply for probate online.

Probate gives you the legal right to deal with a person’s property, money and possessions after they die.

Previously, executors would need to swear an oath in person at a probate registry or solicitor’s office. Now though, swearing an oath and payment of the fee can be done online. You can use the service if you are the executor and:

  • have the original will
  • have the original death certificate or an interim death certificate from the coroner
  • have already reported the estate’s value

Myth: The costs of probate can be enormous

It is very rare for probate to take up much of the estate. It costs £215 to apply for probate and the occasion that it can become expensive is quite often when relatives contest the Will which could involve legal fees and court costs.

Myth: Probate can take a long time

The normal period for the granting of probate is six weeks although at the time of writing, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, it is taking longer. The timescale may become longer when there is a significant sized estate or the Will is being contested.

For help or advice you may need regarding a Will or Probate matters contact us at 01432 278179, or using our contact form below:

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