My experience with a probate application for my father who died earlier this year is the prompt for this article. 

I was appointed executor in my Dad’s will along with my sister. It is not uncommon for parents to name their children as executors, and many will have little or no experience of what this entails until their parent dies. My mother was also appointed as an executor, the will was made some years ago. As Mum is 80 and did not want the responsibility so she agreed to sign a renunciation form, which relinquished her role. 

Having agreed that both my sister and myself would act as our father’s executors, our first job was to obtain his will from the solicitors office where it was stored. This was not a simple task as it was during May 2020, when we in the middle of lockdown in the UK. After several e-mail exchanges and phone calls with our Dad’s solicitor it was agreed that we could collect the will from their offices. I had to submit a signed letter from my sister, giving her permission for me to collect the document. 

I established that we needed to apply for probate as the house in which my parents both lived for 60 years was only in my Dad’s name. Probate is the legal process of giving executors permission to manage the estate of a person who has died. There is quite a bit of work involved in probate application and legal professionals can do this work for you, but obviously you need to be prepared to pay their fees. I used the Government’s online probate application service and equipped myself with a ‘DIY’ Probate Lawpack that I purchased for £19.99 from Amazon. 

Probate was duly granted at the end of August after I paid the Government’s fee of £215. 

Recently I have become aware of The Probate Network, founded by Julie Draper who also learnt about the probate process following the death of her father. The Probate Network gives the user access to a free 20 minute consultation from a solicitor who is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales, who in collaboration with her, they can advise clients if they need to apply for probate or not.

The Probate Network also supports The Bereavement Standard Campaign which is supported by by Cruse Bereavement Care who are petitioning the UK Government for a Bereavement Standard for consistency in the process of account closure when someone dies. I discovered that this varies a lot. Some service providers have excellent bereavement services, but others are not so good, and can lead to many hours of work, trying to close accounts or transfer them into a different name. 

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