Simplifying the probate Archives - MLP Law

The Importance of a Will in Simplifying the Probate Process

The importance of having a Will in place cannot be overstated. In other blog articles, my colleagues have discussed the importance of a Will and the various reasons why it is crucial to have one in place to ensure your wishes are carried out by your chosen executors and that any individuals you do/do not wish to benefit have been fully considered. There are also the tax and asset protection implications that having a professionally drafted Will in place will provide.

However, an additional reason to have a Will in place is when it comes to after your death and the process of obtaining a Grant of probate for your estate by your executors. Sometimes a client will say to me ‘Do I need a Will if the intestacy provisions will have the same effect as a Will to my wishes?’. This would for example be in the case where a client who was single (with no spouse or partner or a widow(er)) and was leaving their estate to their children in equal shares. In this instance, not having a Will would mean that under intestacy (not having a Will), the children would all be entitled to act as administrators of the estate and beneficiaries in equal shares.

Well, a major reason is the current severe delays at the Probate Registry, which unfortunately show no sign of abating. Having a Will in place usually means that the online probate application service may be used. If you do not have a Will, with only a couple of exceptions, then your case will not be able to be dealt with via the online service, and an ‘old fashioned’ paper application needs to be made for probate. Paper applications are submitted to the Newcastle Probate Registry only (rather than for dispersal to any of the other registries around England and Wales as happens with the online applications). Consequently, the delay for paper applications is closer to 6 months or more, rather than the 16 weeks that we are currently advised that online applications will take.

In my recent, professional experience, cases that would have been dealt with much sooner and more easily, with less delay and expense to the estate could all have been solved if the deceased had had a Will in place – even a simple Will that may have reflected the position on intestacy. Thousands of pounds in costs and weeks of delay may be averted for your family after your death if you have put in place a Will before you die.

A professionally drafted Will provides you with the peace of mind and assurance that your wishes have been confirmed for your executors to carry out and that probate will be dealt with on a much simpler and more streamlined basis than if you do not have a Will in place.

Additionally, if you hold assets abroad such as a holiday home in Spain, then having a Will in place for each jurisdiction where you hold assets will also massively simplify the administration of your estate post-death and again, will save your executors and family thousands in fees and months in delay if you have a Will for each country where you hold assets. Again, the Will does not need to be complex necessarily, and your Spanish Will may reflect exactly the same wishes as your English Will. The importance of having both documents comes after death and in the probate process, which is speeded up considerably by having separate wills in place.

The reasons for having a Will in place are many and varied. As a senior solicitor within the Wills, Trusts and Probate Team at mlplaw, for any advice or questions regarding this blog or wills and probate in general, please do contact me for a free 30-minute consultation on 0161 926 1538 or dorisr@mlplaw.co.uk and I would be pleased to assist.