Explaining Probate To Clients

The death of a loved one is classed as one of the most stressful things a person can go through in their lifetime. Whilst getting to grips with the grieving process and beginning to settle the estate, probate may quite possibly be a word that people haven’t heard of, and don’t know what it is.

I for one am aware of probate, but if someone was to ask me for advice I’d have absolutely no idea where to start. I always remember a relative asking me if they needed to go through probate, as the lady who had appointed her as an Executor of her Will, had sadly passed away.

I had no idea, and naturally began to hit a certain well known search engine to try and find the answers.

This got me thinking, explaining the probate process in a simplistic way to clients may help to spread the knowledge of what the process is naturally all about.

What is probate?

In simple terms, probate basically means, identifying the deceased person’s assets, paying off any debts and sharing out the remaining estate in accordance with the Will.

The executor of the Will can apply for the Grant of Probate, which is a legal document that enables them to access funds, deal with the deceased’s finances and share out the estate.

Is probate required for every single death?

According to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), in England and Wales, if the deceased’s estate is worth less than £5,000 there is no need to apply for a Grant of Probate.

What documents are needed for probate?

Estates over £5,000 may need to have a Grant of Probate. To apply for the Grant you will need to have an estimate of the estate’s value (including any properties owned), the original Will and death certificate. You are able to begin the Grant of Probate process online.

Please note there is an application fee of £155 for the Grant of Probate (for estates over £5,000). There is an additional £60 uplift fee if the executor applies for the grant opposed to a solicitor.

How long does probate take?

Sadly, one of the over arching repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic has been that tens of thousands of people have died in the UK, not to mention those that have passed away across the globe.

As a result of this, probate, which can usually take three to four months to sort, is taking longer.

Sometimes being a practitioner of something, in this case a Will Writer or Private Client Solicitor or Advisor we can get bogged down in the language of our craft.

We take for granted that the terms we use on a daily basis and know inside out, can sound completely alien to those who don’t hear it all the time. Remember, these terms mainly come to light following the death of a loved one. Having the additional stress of not being completely in the know can have a lasting impact on your client and their families.

Taking the time to explain some issues can help to bridge the gap and share the knowledge.

In my case, I ended up having a heated debate with another relative about the threshold of when Probate should and shouldn’t be applied for.


  • test

    Not all estates over £5k need probate… You only need probate if you need probate – like if a company requires it to release an asset. As an example, Lloyds bank will release funds of up to £50k without probate.

    • Jennifer van Deursen

      Thank you Mike. Apologies. The source that we found stated that this was the case, and I couldn’t find information to the contrary. Thank you for pointing this out, the article has been amended accordingly.

  • test

    The article contains a major inaccuracy and is misleading.

    It is incorrect to state that Probate is required in “Estates over £5,000”. It is not that s’forward ; it MAY be required but that will depend upon the nature of the asset in question AND the policy of the bank or institution/body which holds the Deceased’s assets.

    • Jennifer van Deursen

      Apologies. The source that we found stated that this was the case, and I couldn’t find information to the contrary. Thank you for pointing this out, the article has been amended accordingly.

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