The importance of appointing guardians in your will

If your children are under the age of 18, have you thought about making sure your will states who should care for them if both parents pass away?

Parental responsibility

If one parent dies and the other has parental responsibility, that parent will take over responsibility for any children and a guardian would not need to be appointed. However, if the other parent does not have parental responsibility or both parents with parental responsibility die and a guardian is not appointed in you will, then the courts will decide who looks after your children.

A child’s biological mother automatically has parental responsibility. For other parents, such as fathers or the second female parent in same-sex relationships, parental responsibility is not guaranteed. Parents therefore can’t assume that the other parent will automatically become guardian if they die.

Why should guardians be appointed?

If you don’t appoint a guardian in your will and no one has parental responsibility when you die, the courts will decide who will look after your children. It is not guaranteed that they will appoint the person or people you would have chosen, so it is better to make the decision yourself.

Following your death, your children are likely to stay with grandparents, other family members or friends on a temporary basis. An interim court order could be sought to formalise this. If this is not a suitable arrangement, the court could grant the local authority temporary parental responsibility. The court would then make an assessment as to what is best for the children and would formalise arrangements in either a care or supervision order.

A guardian, whether appointed under a will or by the court, has parental responsibility for the children within their custody and has all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority that a parent holds.

Who should I appoint as guardian for my children?

This is something you need to consider carefully. Many people choose their own parents, but this might not be appropriate if they are old. Another common choice is your own brothers and sisters or close friends. A guardian must be an individual over the age of 18 and you should think about: –

  • Do your children know the guardians? If so, what is their relationship like?
  • Where do the guardians live?
  • Do the guardians have their own children? If not, would they be able to look after a child?
  • Do the guardians have similar beliefs and morals as you?
  • Do the guardians have the financial ability to raise your child if your estate cannot cover all the costs?

It is important to note that your chosen guardians do not have to accept the appointment, so it is important that you discuss it with them, and they accept the responsibility, before appointing them as guardians in your will.

How will the guardian pay for my children’s upbringing?

A guardian has no responsibility to bring up a child using their own resources. There are several routes you could consider ensuring that the guardian can afford the upbringing of your child. For example, you could:

  • Leave a gift of money in your will to the guardian
  • Allow the trustees of your will to pay for things such as school fees and clothing or loan money to the guardians to buy a suitable property
  • Leave a non-binding letter of wishes that gives guidance on how your trustees should use the money in your estate to benefit the upbringing of your children

How we can help

Our team are on hand to help guide you through every stage of making a will. For more advice on appointing a guardian to you will, guardianship clause or to make your will please call our team on 01925 418 004 or contact us online.

Hospital Acquired Pressure Sores

Pressure Sores, also known as pressure ulcers are caused when an area of skin and/or the tissue below the skin is damages as a result of being placed under sufficient pressure or distortion to impair its blood supply.

You are more likely to be at risk off suffering a pressure ulcer if you are seriously ill, have a neurological condition, impaired mobility, type 2 diabetic or above the age of 75. Whilst they may not sound like much, pressure sores can be serious and life threatening as they can lead to blood poisoning or gangrene.

Pressure Ulcer Grades

Pressure sores are graded between levels of 1 to 4

  • grade I – skin discolouration, usually red, blue, purple or black
  • grade II – some skin loss or damage involving the top-most skin layers
  • grade III – necrosis (death) or damage to the skin patch, limited to the skin layers
  • grade IV – necrosis (death) or damage to the skin patch and underlying structures, such as tendon, joint or bone.-

Grade 3 and over pressure sores often require surgery to remove the dead tissue and possibly tendons, joints or bones.

Treatment and Prevention

Hospital acquired pressure ulcers are largely avoidable, as risk assessments should be in place to ensure that you are identified as a potential risk to pressure ulcers, and your skin should be reviewed every few hours and position changed if needed to avoid a pressure ulcer.

Treatment of pressure ulcers typically involves offloading the area of the body to reduce pressure, as well as wound care to promote healing. In some cases, surgery may be required.

If you believe you have suffered an avoidable hospital acquired pressure sore within the last three years, you could make a medical negligence claim. Please give us a call for a no obligation chat regarding the events of your care and our no win no fee agreement.

A Patient’s Right to C-Section on Demand

A Caesarean Section or C-Section can be undergone during pregnancy for three reasons:

  • An unplanned caesarean birth if the child’s health/life is threatened during labour
  • An obstetrician may advise a caesarean birth, if in his/her opinion a vaginal birth would put the health/life of the bay at risk. This is known as an elective planned caesarean birth
  • A third  reason for undergoing a c-section is following the direct request of the patient, with or without any obstetric advice. This also falls under the heading of a planned elective c-section, however it is more commonly called a maternal request caesarean.

A maternal request caesarean may be requested, even if the patient’s doctor or midwife does not believe that there is a medical reason for carrying for the procedure, at any time even during labour.

Any patient who requests a caesarean birth should be listened to and taken seriously.

Any maternity unit that refuses a request for an elective c-section must have a good reason for refusing this request, an example being the risk of likely harm to the patient or the child versus the patient’s given reason for the request.

What NICE Says

The NICE Guidelines state that where a C-Section is requested and the patient is making a clearly informed decision then this decision should be respected.

The guidelines further state that where the given reason for electing to have a c-section on maternal request is birth anxiety, then counselling should ne offered to the patient, It should be noted that the patient is not obliged to accept this offer of support. In such circumstances the maternity department should offer a c-section.

It should be noted that this does not place an obligation on obstetricians to perform c-sections against their will. However should an obstetrician refuse to carry out a c-section, he/she should then refer the patient to an obstetrician who is willing to perform the procedure.

 What the Law Says

The recent leading case of Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] the Supreme Court stated that where there is an increased risk in a vaginal birth the patient should be offered the option of a c-section, nevertheless this case is silent on this particular issue, nor is there any case law in support of a mother’s right to a c-section on demand and at present court rulings support the view that a vaginal birth to be the first choice of treatment.

Claimant’s who are denied a maternal request caesarean are likely then to have to fall back on the NICE Guidelines. HRA Article 8 does provide some report as the Courts have traditionally interpreted the right to a private and family life very broadly.        

Never Events

Each month, the NHS typically sees over 1 million attendances across the UK. Whilst the vast majority of consultations, treatments and surgeries are done with no complications, there are some events, in which regretfully, mistakes do happen.

What is a Never Event?

The NHS regard “Never Events” as serious, largely preventable incidents that should not occur if healthcare providers have implemented existing national guidance or safety recommendations.

From the 1st April 2020 to the 31st March 2021, the NHS had reported 364 of these incidents across the UK. A Never Event has a very wide definition and can be as little as leaving a surgical swab within the body following an operation (known as a foreign object) to operating and removing the wrong limb or part of the body.

Never Event List

A list of some events classed as a never event has been listed by the NHS are as follows:

  • Wrong Site Surgery
  • Retained Foreign Object
  • Misplaced Naso or Oro Gastric Tube
  • Wrong Implant/Prosthesis
  • Scalding of patients
  • Incorrectly administered medication

A full list can be found here on the NHS website.

Whilst some may not be as serious as you think, Never Events have been branded by this name by the NHS as they are, simply, events that should never happen.

If you believe you have suffered a Never Event within the last three years, you could be entitled to a medical negligence claim. Please do give us a call for a no obligation chat regarding the events of your care and our no win no fee agreement.

Fracture Misdiagnosis Claims

Thousands of people every year have accidents which result in being taken to Accident and Emergency. These accidents can range from a simple trip in the street to a major road traffic accident. And when the patient attends the Accident and Emergency, they would expect a correct diagnosis of the injury or injuries that they have suffered will be made by the treating clinician, however on many occasions the diagnosis will be wrong. And as a result, every year many thousands of claims are made as a consequence of the wrong diagnosis being made in A&E last year over 1300 such claims were settled and over 1100 new claims were brought.

Typically, many of these claims will be in relation to a misdiagnosis such as there has been a failure to diagnose a fracture initially and then sometimes many months later the fracture is then diagnosed and by which time it is often too late.

How Fracture Misdiagnosis Can Occur

One such example of a typical case involving a missed fracture is this, a patient trips over in the street and in an attempt to break their fall they put the hand out to break their fall and as a result of which they fall onto their hand causing there wrist to go backwards. Following the fall, and more than likely the following day, the patient then starts to experience pain, swelling, and a limited range of movement in the wrist and as a result they attend the A&E.

The patient will then be treated by a nurse or a doctor who will examine the patient and ask the patient as to how the accident occurred and may then arrange for an Xray to take place or may simply discharge the patient with advice. After the patient is discharged the patient continues to suffer with pain in the wrist but carries until such point that they cannot stand the pain anymore and attends their GP a couple of months later who refers them for an Xray.

The patient then attends the hospital for the Xray to be performed whereupon the patient is advised that they have a scaphoid fracture which occurred three months earlier and was missed when the patient attended A&E.  And because of the delay in the fracture being diagnosed the patient is now going to suffer long term health consequence which could have been avoided had the fracture been diagnosed when they first A&E.

However in the example provided if the treating clinician examines the patient and the patient is found to have pain, swelling and loss of mobility and the patient tells the treating clinician that they have fallen onto their outstretched hand and if the treating clinician doesn’t Xray the patients wrist, put the patients wrist in a temporary cast and arrange and appointment at the fracture clinic and simply discharges the patient with advice then the treating clinician on that occasion will have provided substandard or negligent treatment.

How Mark Reynolds Can Help

The above is just one example of a fracture misdiagnosis and they can also be found in relation to other parts of the body, such as the arm, leg, arm etc.

At Mark Reynolds solicitors we have a number of clients whom we are acting on behalf of in relation to situations were there has been a failure to diagnose a fracture and the client has suffered long term health consequences as a result of the failure to diagnose a fracture.

So, if you have suffered a fracture which was not initially diagnosed and you have then go onto suffer long term consequences not diagnosing the fracture in time then you may have a medical negligence claim. Contact us today for a no obligation chat with one of our team to found out if you do have a claim.

What happens if there is no will?

The death of a loved one is a distressing and emotional time, and this can be worsened if they have not made a will detailing their wishes.

If the deceased has not made a will, their estate must be administered in compliance with the Laws of Intestacy. Instead of a Grant of Probate, those entitled to administer the estate may require Letters of Administration. Below, we delve further into what happens is there is no will.

Who is entitled to inherit the estate?

If the deceased is survived by only a spouse or civil partner, the entire estate passes to them.

Where they are survived by both spouse or civil partner and issue*, the estate is distributed as follows: –

  1. The spouse or civil partner receives the personal belongings
  2. The spouse or civil partner receives a statutory legacy of £270,000 free of tax and costs plus interest from the date of death until payment
  3. The rest of the estate is divided in half One half passes to the spouse or civil partner whilst the other half passes to the issue

Where there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the estate is divided between the relatives in the highest category in the list below:

  1. The deceased’s issue
  2. The deceased’s parents
  3. Brothers and sisters of whole blood or their issue if they have died before the deceased
  4. Brothers and sisters of half-blood and their issue if they died before the deceased
  5. The grandparents of the deceased
  6. Aunts and uncles of whole blood and their issue if they died before the deceased
  7. Aunts and uncles of half-blood and their issue if they died before the deceased
  8. The Crown, Duchy of Lancaster, or Duke of Cornwall

Who is entitled to administer the estate?

The order for person or persons entitled to administer the estate is similar to the above and is as follows: –

  1. Surviving spouse or civil partner
  2. Children of the deceased and their issue if they have died before the deceased 
  3. The parents of the deceased
  4. Brothers and sisters of whole blood and their issue if they died before the deceased
  5. Brothers and sisters of half-blood and their issue if they died before the deceased
  6. The grandparents of the deceased
  7. Aunts and uncles of whole blood and their issue if they died before the deceased
  8. Aunts and uncles of half-blood and their issue if they died before the deceased
  9. Any person who has a beneficial interest in the estate
  10.  Treasury solicitor or a creditor of the deceased

If you are responsible for administering an estate, require information on estate administration, please read our quick guide on estate administration.

How we can help

We now hope you further understand what happens if there is no will however, at Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we provide a comprehensive range of probate services including estate administration for our clients. We understand that dealing with an estate can seem like a daunting process, and our experienced and professional team can guide you through it. We can administer the estate in full on your behalf and we also offer a fixed fee grant of representation only service.

Call 01925 418 004 or contact us online to find out more.

*The term issue includes all direct descendants of a deceased individual: ie, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren etc. adopted children and their descendants, as are those whose parents were not married at the time of their birth. Descendants of the deceased’s spouse or civil partner are not classed as issue of the deceased unless adopted.

Do I need a Grant of Representation?

What is a grant of representation?

A Grant of Representation is a legal document that provides individuals with the legal authority to administer a deceased person’s estate. There are different types of Grant of Representation, with the most common being:

  1. A Grant of Probate, obtained when the deceased left a valid will appointing executors
  2. A Grant of Letters of Administration, obtained when the deceased did not leave a valid will (we recommend that you read our article covering this area)
  3. A Grant of Letters of Administration with a will annexed, obtained when there is a will but no available executor

A Grant of Representation is not required every time a person dies.

Do I need to apply for a Grant of Representation?

You usually need a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration if the estate consists of: –

  • Property owned by the deceased in their sole name or jointly as tenants in common
  • Had large amounts of funds in bank accounts
  • Owned shares
  • Had pension or life insurance policies that do not nominate beneficiaries

Joint property and bank accounts can typically be dealt with by simply providing the relevant organization with the death certificate.

Sole bank accounts can be dealt with using just the death certificate, however, this is at each banks discretion as they all have their own limit that they are prepared to release up to without being provided with a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

The starting point is to contact the financial organisations the deceased used to find out their requirements.

If you require information on estate administration, please read our quick guide.

How long does it take to get a grant of representation?

The Probate Registry is the part of court that deals with applications for grants of representation. Tt can take anywhere from 6-18 weeks, depending on how busy they are at any given time. It also depends on the size of the estate and how smoothly the handover of paperwork goes.

Smaller estates are likely to be processed more quickly than larger ones, due to there usually being less factors to consider. Larger estates, especially when inheritance tax is involved are likely to take the longest amount of time.

How Mark Reynolds Solicitors can help

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we provide a comprehensive range of probate services for our clients. We understand that dealing with an estate can seem like a daunting process, and our experienced and professional team can guide you through it. We can administer the estate in full on your behalf and we also offer a fixed fee Grant of Representation only service. Call 01925 418 004 or contact us online to find out more.

A Quick Guide To Estate Administration

The death of a loved one is a distressing time, however, estate administration must always be carried out regardless of the size of the estate. It is important that beneficiaries of an estate understand that estate administration is not a quick process, and in many instances can take over 12 months to complete.

This guide provides a general outline of what estate administration is and what administering an estate involves. As the circumstances of an estate differ in each case, it is not a comprehensive guide and if you have any questions, you should call us on 01925 418 004.

Immediate priorities

If you are responsible for administering an estate, your immediate priorities are to secure the deceased’s home and personal belongings and to collect important documents.

You may also be required to register the death at the local registry office and arrange the funeral.

Is there a will?

Sometimes the deceased will have the original or a copy of the will in their home, or you may find paperwork from a professional will writer such as a firm of solicitors referring to a will.

If there is a will, it will confirm who is appointed to act as executor and administer the estate. If it is held by a solicitor, they will only release it to the appointed executors upon receipt of the death certificate and identification.

If you cannot find a will, you should carry out a will search with a search agency such as The National Will Register.

If there is no will, the deceased’s estate must be administered in accordance with the laws of intestacy, and we recommend that you read our article on what happens if there is no will.

Estate administration

When administering an estate, you must collect assets, pay off debts and taxes and distribute the estate in accordance with the will or the laws of intestacy. Some of the steps involved in the process are: –

  1. Obtain full and up to date details of the deceased’s assets.
  2. Obtain details of the deceased’s liabilities.
  3. Determine whether a Grant of Representation is required estate (we recommend that you read our article on when a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration might be required).
  4. If a Grant of Representation is required, you will need to apply to the Probate Registry. Depending on the size and nature of the estate, you may need to submit an inheritance tax account to HMRC before a Grant of Representation will be issued to you.
  5. On receipt of the Grant of Representation, collect in the deceased’s assets and discharge any liabilities from those assets.
  6. Place statutory advertisements in the London Gazette and a local newspaper.
  7. Finalise the deceased’s income tax affairs.
  8. Prepare final estate accounts.
  9. Make distributions to all beneficiaries.

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we provide a comprehensive range of probate services for our clients. We understand that dealing with an estate can seem like a daunting process, and our experienced and professional team in Warrington can guide you through it. We can administer the estate in full on your behalf and we also offer a fixed fee grant of representation only service. Call 01925 418 004 or contact us online to find out more.

Have you suffered from lung damage after being prescribed Nitrofurantoin?

Many patients and particularly women, suffer from recurrent urinary tract infection and cystitis and one of the ways in which these conditions are treated is with the prescription of an antibiotic called Nitrofurantoin and it is common practice for Nitrofurantoin to be prescribed for uncomplicated cystitis and for recurrent urinary tract infections by GP’s.

In many situations urinary tract infections can continue for many years and as a consequence of which a patient may be prescribed for many years without the prescription itself or indeed the dosage being prescribed being reviewed.

However, it has now been found that prolonged prescription of Nitrofurantoin over a number of years can result in the patient developing a condition called Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity.

What is Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity?

Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity can cause patients to suffer with symptoms such fever, cough, intense chest pain, breathlessness, and more seriously permanent lung damage. And once patients are diagnosed with Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity the prescription of the medication is stopped immediately.

And it is crucial that the GP identifies these symptoms early to stop the Nitrofurantoin and avoid long term lung damage.

However, this does not mean that just because a patient has been prescribed Nitrofurantoin that they will inevitably end up with Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity, steps can and should be taken to minimise the chances of a patient developing Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity and long-term lung damage. The GP prescribing the Nitrofurantoin is under a duty to mitigate and reduce the chances of Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity happening.

Preventing Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity

A GP who is prescribing a patient with Nitrofurantoin should do the following in order to reduce the chances of a patient developing Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity, they should:

  • Regularly review and monitor patients on Nitrofurantoin, patients should not just be prescribed Nitrofurantoin and then left to just pick up their repeat prescription.
  • Arrange for patients on long term Nitrofurantoin to have 6 monthly chest x-rays and monitoring of liver function to allow for early detection of any development of Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity.
  • Advise the patient of the risks of Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity developing and the symptoms that will present to allow for early treatment.

And if the GP doesn’t follow these simple steps, then the GP may be found to have provided substandard treatment if the patient then goes onto develop Nitrofurantoin Pulmonary Toxicity and long-term lung damage.

So, if you have suffered with recurrent urinary tract infections or cystitis and have been prescribed Nitrofurantoin and the prescription of Nitrofurantoin has not been reviewed and monitored and you have simply been given a repeat prescription and have now been advised that you have lung damage as a result of being prescribed Nitrofurantoin then you may be able to make a claim.

Contact us today to speak to one of our team for a no obligation chat regarding the events of your care and our no win no fee agreement.

How Long Does Probate Take If There Is A Will?

Probate is the complete process of administering the estate of a deceased person. It will differ from estate to estate, but in general, it will include organising their money, possessions and assets and distributing them as inheritance after any debts and taxes have been paid.

If a will is in place, the name of the person or people who will administer the estate will be named. This person is known as the executor of the will and it will be their responsibility to organise probate.

Gaining probate allows the executor to access funds and other assets to help them distribute them according to the wishes of the deceased as set out in their will. Different financial organisations have different thresholds for when probate will be required, ranging from £10,000 to £50,000.

There’s often some confusion about probate, what it involves and when it’s required. Here we’ll clarify some of the questions people have about probate, and how long it might take.

Do you need to go through probate if there is a will?

Probate will usually be required if the deceased person’s estate is worth more than £10,000, even if there is a will. If there is a will and the deceased person has assets of less than £10,000 then no probate will be required.

However, if most of the assets in the estate are jointly owned such as savings, property and bank accounts,, then probate may not be necessary. These will automatically pass to the surviving co-owner. The surviving co-owner, usually the spouse, will only need the death certificate in order to access these assets.

However, if the assets were owned as tenants in common or if there are other solely owned assets within the estates, such as ISAs and other investments, then you may still need to apply for probate.

What is the procedure of probate of a will?

Because every estate is different, the exact probate process for each individual can vary considerably, depending on the instructions left in the will. The assets, beneficiaries, and creditors of the estate will all be a factor in determining the length of the process.

However, there is a basic process that most executors will need to complete.

Firstly, the full details of the estate’s assets and debts will need to be gathered.  This should include details such as property, savings, any outstanding debts or other liabilities, business interests and investments.

You will then need to apply for the Grant of Probate. This is permission to administer the estate and distribute any assets according to the wishes of the deceased person as set out in their will. 

An inheritance tax return will need to be completed and any tax due as a result will then need to be paid.

You will then receive a Grant of Probate, allowing you to access accounts and other investments. You will then need to repay any of the deceased’s outstanding debts, prior to distributing what’s left according to the instructions that are set out in the will.

Extra complications can occur if there are any disputes between the executor, beneficiaries, creditors or HMRC.

The probate process takes about a year for most estates. The time it takes will depend on the size and the complexity of the estate. Probate for simpler estates can all be tied up in a much shorter period of time than complex, large value, estates.

International probate can be even more complicated and takes anywhere between six months and two years. It can take time to receive the necessary paperwork and permission in order to sell foreign assets, and businesses can take time to sell or divide.

Sometimes disputes can arise during the probate process between the executor, creditors, HMRC or beneficiaries. These disputes can all create delays when it comes to administering the estate.

Homemade and DIY wills are more likely to create problems than wills that have been drafted by a solicitor. This might be because the will has been poorly drawn up or might even be completely invalid, with the wishes expressed within unclear.

A potential lengthy delay is the process of selling the property. This can be unpredictable, although the fact there is no upward chain can help reduce the risk of the sale being held up. During this process, utility bills and maintenance costs will still need to be paid on the property.

Sometimes the beneficiaries might be missing or difficult to locate. If they can’t be easily identified or located the inquiries will need to be made and searches will need to be carried out.

If you encounter any problems during the probate process then our team of experienced probate specialists are on hand to provide expert advice. We can help resolve any disputes or even take over your executor duties to help free up your time and speed up the process.

The death of an executor isn’t unheard of and if the administrator dies during probate, someone else will need to be appointed in their place. The responsibility for this will fall to the person who is named as the executor of the recently deceased executor.

Why would a will go to probate?

Most estates will need to go through probate, regardless of whether or not there is a will. The determining factor in whether or not probate is required is the type and value of the assets in the will.

The Grant of Probate is the document that allows for the executor to take up ownership of the assets from the deceased, allowing them to then carry out the instructions outlined in the will. Estates of a very low value, or when all the assets are held in common, will not require a Grant of Probate.

If the deceased owned assets in their own right above £10,000, then it’s likely you will need a Grant of Probate. If, for instance, the deceased held £50,000 in a bank or building society account, then the financial institution in question will need to be provided with a Grant of Probate before it will release any capital to the executors.

If, however, the deceased only held a few thousand pounds in an account with the same institution, then they are unlikely to need to see a Grant of Probate.  Each bank and building society has its own limits of the amount that they are willing to give to executors before they see a Grant of Probate, but in most cases, it will be around £10,000-£15,000.

Other factors that might require a Grant of Probate, even when most of the assets are jointly held with a spouse, include stocks and shares held in a single name or property that is held in common. If the deceased was the sole owner of the property that they shared with their beneficiary, then a Grant of Probate will be required before it can be transferred to their ownership.

The rules regarding probate can be confusing, which is why many people will entrust the process to an experienced probate solicitor to carry out probate as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Is a will enough to avoid probate?

A will on its own is not enough to determine whether or not probate is required. What determines the need for probate is the assets that the deceased held, their value and whether or not they were held solely or in joint names.

For this reason, a good place to begin when determining whether or not you require a Grant of Probate is to make a detailed list of all the assets that the deceased owned. You’ll then need to find out whether those assets were held in the deceased’s sole name, in joint names or with someone else.

When assets are held as Joint Tenants with someone who is still alive, the asset will then automatically pass to the co-owner under the Right of Survivorship. If this is the case for all of the deceased’s assets, then a Grant of Probate will not be required.

If, however, assets are held as Tenants in Common, they are not passed to the surviving tenant by the Survivorship rules. Instead, these will pass on to whoever is entitled to inherit under the deceased’s will. Depending on their value and who is inheriting them probate may be required.

If the assets of the deceased all fall under the Probate threshold then it’s likely that probate won’t be needed. This is known as a ‘small estate’ and every bank and financial institution will have its own limit for what constitutes a small estate. Generally speaking, if the estate is less than £10,000 – £15,000 then a Grant of Probate will not usually be required.

Does a will speed up probate?

The probate process needs to follow a number of steps. This means that although when a will is in place the process can be speeded up to some degree, the differences are rarely that great. It takes between 9 to 12 months in England Wales to obtain the Grant of Probate and then complete the estate administration process regardless of whether or not there is a will.

Despite a will being unlikely to make the process significantly faster, the presence of a will can make things more clear-cut. There will be a range of information at hand that can speed up the process while reducing the potential for disputes. Loved ones and beneficiaries will know who the executor is and that the person was selected for this role by the deceased. The executor will also know the names of the beneficiaries and what the deceased wanted them to inherit.

However, that doesn’t mean that the existence of a will removes the risk of delays occurring. The relatives of the deceased may not be able to locate either the original will or later versions. It can be harder to locate if the company that drafted the will has since closed down. If someone has been excluded from the will, they may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act.

If the will has not been properly drafted this may cause uncertainty around the deceased’s wishes. A poorly drafted will might even be found to be invalid. This can significantly delay the probate process.

Professional probate advice from Mark Reynolds Solicitors

Taking care of probate can be stressful and complicated, particularly if you are grieving. At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, our experienced probate services understand the process of dealing with the estate of a friend or family member can be a daunting process. Our team can take care of as much or as little of the process as you wish, providing support and advice along the way.

If you’re the executor of a will and would like confidential advice and support with the probate process, call 0800 002 9577 or contact us online.