Wills & Probate

Meet Kim Rainford BA (Hons) Law our specialist solicitor for Wills & Probate

Thinking about what happens to your finances and property when you die can often be a stressful and  emotional time that can be difficult to deal with. It helps to have someone who is a specialist solicitor, like Mr Rainford, to discuss the plans that you would like to be put into place after your death and ensure that your wishes and instructions are followed.

After a death it is often difficult for an Executor to deal with an estate especially when dealing with bereavement. We provide a full probate service ranging from assisting an Executor to apply for a Grant of Probate to dealing with the full estate on behalf of the Executor and distributing the assets. 

Often our clients will appoint one of our solicitors as Executor of their estate, especially when there are difficult family relationships or if there is no family or friends who can act as Executors.

Our Solicitors can also assist in obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration when your loved one had died without making a Will.

Find out more

Hannays Solicitors and Advocates Ltd., provide expert legal advice in every aspect of making a will, estate management and probate.

Additionally, if you are elderly you may require specific advice to help you to manage your finances in your later years and we offer specialised elderly client services.

Our services include:

  • Drafting and updating wills
  • Administration of Estates on Death / Probate
  • Inheritance tax planning
  • Power of Attorney

We answer your questions on Wills and Probate

Without a valid Will you are unable to control what happens to your assets after death, which may leave your loved ones and dependents with complicated problems to resolve.

The reason most people give for not having a Will is that they don’t want to think about their death.

We have a great deal of experience at Hannays Solicitors and Advocates to help you make your Will while focusing on the positive aspects of making your wishes known. This ensures that your family, friends, favourite charity or good cause receive what you would like them to have.

If you don’t make your wishes known, it may be that the people who inherit your estate will not necessarily be the ones you would want to inherit as the estate would pass to those people defined legally as your next of kin, which in some cases can be people that you do not get on with or have not seen for many years, and perhaps never at all.

It is important to have a Will which is constructed properly to ensure that it cannot be questioned after your death and the instructions you have left about the disposal of your Estate can be carried out legally.

The law determines what happens to a person’s Estate if they die intestate (without a Will) and under the rules, it is possible that your preferred beneficiary may not get anything when you die. If you are living with someone and are not married to him or her, your partner may get nothing at all without further legal action at a time when they are mourning.

If you are a husband and wife who have no children (or children from first marriages) and die without making Wills, it is likely that all of the estate may pass to the family of the second to die, with nothing going to the family of the one who died first. With a Will it is possible to arrange for the estate to be divided fairly between the two families.

A Will allows you to express your wishes as to your funeral arrangements.

The current law is clear that on marriage your existing Will becomes invalid. If you made a Will before marriage your Will needs to be redrafted after you marry. If your spouse does not have a Will it would be a good time for them to consider making one. We offer a reduced cost for making ‘mirror Wills’ for married or civil partnership couples.

When your Will has been drawn up and signed we will securely store it free of charge unless you have other secure safe storage facilities that are known about and accessible after your death. Copies will be sent to you to keep with your other important documents or give to an Executor so they can find your Will after your death.

For clients who wish to make a Will but cannot come to our offices because of illness, infirmity or because they are resident in long term care we can make arrangements (often at short notice) to visit your home, hospital ward or residence. We do not charge for home visits for clients who have difficulty in travelling to our office because of illness or disability or age.

We currently charge £150 + £30 VAT (in total £180) to prepare a single Will and £250 + £50 VAT  (in total £300) for mirror Wills.

Mirror Wills can be used for a married couple where both parties are providing the same instructions and the only difference in the prepared Wills are names and gender titles.

We will always discuss your requirements first and provide a quotation for any work that we are requested to carry out. This means that there is always certainty in what we are doing and how much it will cost.

After your death your ‘Estate’ is the property along with any other assets that you have.

Your assets may consist of money in the bank, your property (if you own it), the contents of your property, jewellery and valuables.

Probate is the process of applying to the Probate Registry to allow management of the estate by the Executor(s) of someone who had died with a valid Will.

Applying for Letters of Administration is a similar process, but the person who has died has not made a valid Will and has dies intestate. Someone then has to act as an Administrator for the estate.

Our probate specialists handle the winding up of your Estate with understanding and sympathy as we appreciate that for your family and friends this can be a very distressing and stressful time.

Administration involves:
• Ascertaining the assets and liabilities and preparing the necessary tax forms
• Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration enabling the personal representative to obtain the assets
• Settling the liabilities of the estate
• Distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the will and if there is no will in accordance with the statutory rules.
• Advising if there is a dispute between beneficiaries, executors or those who want to make a claim against an estate
• Ensuring that any Inheritance tax due is declared and paid

Our Prices
We do the work that our clients need us to do – if our client only needs help to apply for the Grant of Probate we offer simple fixed fee costs plus disbursements.

If our client wishes to instruct us to handle the full estate including distribution we will give a costs estimate at the outset based on an hourly rate of £216 in total which is £180 per hour plus £36 VAT (at the rate of 20%) and disbursements depending upon the complexity of the estate.

A disbursement is a fee that we charge to our clients at cost. Disbursements are raised by a third parties, for example the Courts or HMRC, which are payable within the processes of winding up an estate.

There is more information on what a disbursement is here : https://www.hannayslaw.co.uk/what-is-a-disbursement/

If an estate includes the sale of property we will give a quotation at the onset for the sale of the property(s). There is some further information on the pricing we charge for conveyancing here : https://www.hannayslaw.co.uk/services/conveyancing.html

This is an indication of our prices for a Grant of Probate and an uncontested simple estate where all the assets are in England or Wales.

Grant of Probate
Typically, obtaining a Grant of Probate will take at least 16 weeks, as the Probate Registry at the start of 2024  still has a backlog.

As part of our fixed fee we will provide the following;
– A dedicated and experienced probate solicitor who is currently assisted by a Trainee Solicitor
– Advise on the legally appointed Executors or Administrators and beneficiaries
– Accurately identify the type of Probate application required
– Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application
– Complete the Probate application and IHT205 for deaths before 1st January 2022
– Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
– Obtain the Probate and (securely) provide you with copies

Our costs for the work described above are: £600 + £120 VAT (at the rate of 20 percent) – in total the fee is £720.

The Disbursements you should expect to pay are:
Probate Application Fee: £273
Court copy document fees : £1.50 per document
Office Copy Entry from Land Registry (only if a property is being sold) : £3.00 per office copy entry (sometimes several are required)
Land Registry bankruptcy searches: £2 per beneficiary
Post in the London Gazette (to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors) estimated at £100+ VAT (at the rate of 20 percent) £20
Post in local newspaper (to help protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors) estimated at £200 + VAT (at the rate of 20 percent) £40

An Uncontested Simple Estate
A simple estate would be one where there is:
– A valid Will
– No more than one property ( the sale of which we would quote for separately)
– No more than one bank account with a small amount of savings
– No other intangible assets
– No more than two beneficiaries
– No disputes amongst the beneficiaries
– No inheritance tax payable
– A few simple claims against the estate
We estimate our costs for carrying out this work would be as follows:
Our costs are: £180 +£36 VAT £36 (therefore a total of £216 per hour including VAT)  per hour with an estimated 5 hours of work (in total including VAT this is £1,080).

The Disbursements you should expect to pay are:
Probate Application Fee: £273
Court copy document fees : £1.50 per document
Office Copy Entry from Land Registry (only if a property is being sold) : £3.00 per office copy entry (sometimes several are required)
Land Registry bankruptcy searches: £2 per beneficiary
Post in the London Gazette (to protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors) estimated at £100+ VAT (at the rate of 20 percent) £20
Post in local newspaper (to help protect against unexpected claims from unknown creditors) estimated at £200 + VAT (at the rate of 20 percent) £40
Sale of property – the conveyancing costs will be quoted separately in addition to the costs and disbursements indicated here.

On average an estate like this can be expected to be dealt with within nine months. Typically the Grant of Probate will take at least 16 weeks to process.
The assets have to be collected and debts paid.
The soonest we can make distributions to beneficiaries will be six months after the Grant of Probate has been issued.

For sending funds to beneficiaries our standard bank transfer fee of £40 + £8 VAT (VAT is calculated at the prevailing rate of 20%). In total a standard bank transfer is £48 including VAT and would be applied per transaction.

These are very simple examples and everyone’s estate has different circumstances and levels of complexity.

We will always provide a written quotation based on the information that is provided to us before accepting instructions.

If something unexpected happens during the course of the matter that is not included in our original quotation we will always provide further information in writing, with an explanation of how this affects costs and why the work is necessary.

Many people believe that when they make a Will they give their Executor the legal power to deal with their estate and that there will not be any additional need to apply for Probate.

This is not the case.

Probate is the legal authority granted by the Court to administer an estate and whether or not it is required depends upon the type and value of assets in the estate.

A Grant of Probate ratifies the terms of the Will which includes the Executors Authority.

Many people think that their spouse will inherit their entire estate if they die without a Will but this is not always true.

When an individual dies without a valid Will there are certain legal rules that govern who will inherit their estate that are known as the Rules of Intestacy.

A spouse is generally entitled to the first £250,000 of the estate plus half of the balance with the other half going to the children of the deceased.

If this is not your wish you need a Will to set out the way you wish your estate to be inherited.

If you are not married or in a Civil Partnership, your partner may not inherit any of your estate if you do not have a Will.

It is a very common misconception that ‘you can’t leave your debts to someone when you die’ or that an individual’s debts are written off on their death leaving their loved ones to benefit from the whole estate.

The deceased’s assets will be used to pay for their funeral costs, the administration of their estate and personal debts.

Personal debts may include loans, credit card balances and outstanding household bills.

Any money left over once the debts are paid is distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.

It is perfectly normal to appoint a beneficiary as an Executor to your Will particularly if they are also the only beneficiary to your estate.

However, the people witnessing your Will cannot be beneficiaries.

If you would like to name your daughter as a beneficiary in your Will we would advise against asking her to witness your Will because if she does she will forfeit her entitlement to the gift you would like to leave her.

If we are preparing you Will for you and you have problems in finding witnesses we will arrange for suitable witnesses to be present at no extra cost, even for home visits.

If you are not married (or in a civil partnership) and have legally bought a house together, you may find that when one partner dies the surviving partner becomes the owner of the whole property, but sometimes when the house is bought the arrangement has been for one partner to own their half and their partner to own half. In this case if the ownership of the property is divided following a death, whoever benefits from the Will of the deceased partner or benefits under the intestacy rules (in the case of there not being a valid Will) will inherit the the property formerly owned by the deceased.

Unmarried cohabiting couples are the fastest growing type of family in the UK, but unmarried couples have fewer legal rights than married couples (or those in a civil partnership) and this affects the surviving person. This could be particularly important for those who are still married to a previous partner, but now live with someone else at their new partners property.

Older couples sometimes form relationships whereby one sells their property and moves in with the other, sometimes equalising the relationship by using their money to improve the property, but they are never recorded as owning their new home with their partner. Once their partner dies, the partners children or next of kin want possession of the property, and the surviving partner is made homeless and suffers financial consequences.

Due to the recent rises in living expenses, there are also people who are in non-romantic relationships who have bought property together. What would happen in the event of the death of one person in the agreement if the home is not owned jointly and there is no valid Will?

If a person dies without a Will, the assets and property of that person are distributed according to the Intestacy Rules. This mans that the person inheriting may be an ex-spouse (if a divorce has not taken place), their children, a family member they hardly knew or be passed to the Crown if there are no traceable beneficiaries.

If you are in a non-married/non-civil partnership relationship, or in a non-romantic property-owning partnership, you should be asking the following questions;

How would ongoing household expenses be paid if the other person died?
What would happen with joint bank accounts and pensions in the event of death ending the relationship?
What happens to assets owned before or bought while living together?
What financial arrangements have been put in place for children?
What arrangements have been put in place for pets?
Who has next of kin rights?

Make a Will

The solution is simple and fairly inexpensive considering the consequences of not putting in place this legal document. Making a valid Will , will insure that the remaining person inherits in the event of the death of their partner.

For a Will we can draw up mirror Wills or individual Wills depending on the circumstances of the cohabiting couple. At the very least a cohabiting couple, especially where there are children each need a valid Will.

Cohabitation Agreements

Couples who are in a non-romantic property-owning relationship may also wish to draw up a cohabitation agreement to assist in the event of a dispute between the parties and we can provide further advice on these type of agreements. To be valid;

  • Both parties need to enter into it freely and voluntarily
  • The agreement needs to be in the form of a deed
  • Each person needs to sign it
  • It needs to be kept up to date for major life changes

Call us on 0191 455361 to make an appointment or ask for further advice.

What our clients think

We were treated with polite friendliness at all times

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I would recommend because of the professionalism at all times from the staff

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Recommended by our Estate Agents - easy to make initial contact

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Very polite staff and straightforward procedure

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Advice given was useful and the service was brilliant

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All Our Services


Our conveyancers are accredited by the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) to help with all aspects of residential conveyancing.


Our experienced team of solicitors provide advice on all aspects of Family Law.


Our Solicitors provide specialist support and assistance where local authority proceedings are taking place or when a private application for child arrangements is required.

Wills & Probate

Our solicitors assist our clients at any age to plan what should be put in place after death to ensure that wishes are followed and after death by applying for probate and administering estates.

Elderly Client Services

Our approachable and helpful team assists in all aspects of later life planning, especially when an older person becomes vulnerable and less able to manage their own financial affairs and home.

Court of Protection

Our team can assist with Lasting Powers of Attorney and Deputy Orders following the procedures of the Court of Protection.