Financial & Legal News

A day in the life of a Probate Lawyer

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Do you ever wonder what probate lawyers do on a day-to-day basis?  Well, they don’t just draft probate applications and fill out forms all day, definitely not….

Here David Webb, a chartered legal executive in our Private Client department talks about the weird and wonderful things that all form part of a days work in Probate.

“I can almost guarantee that with the variety of tasks involved in the estate of a loved one, the average day for probate lawyers is probably not what you had in mind, or had ever contemplated,” said David.

“In fact, every day is different and we find ourselves doing tasks that are a bit “out of the ordinary” which have included meeting Registrars to officially register a death, instructing auctioneers for valuations of jewellery, paintings and antiques, or attending to a property to meet a cleaner and even attending funerals,” he added.

What is Probate?

Probate is essentially the administration of the affairs of someone who has died and numerous matters must be addressed in a timely manner.  Probate is the legal right to deal with those matters, whether it’s property, money or possessions and only when Probate is granted can financial plans or property be dealt with.

Often in cases where there are no next of kin a member of our legal team will be an executor and wind up the estate.  We sometimes have possessions stored at our offices, we have even kept ashes and our team attend the funerals and pay their respects to clients who have passed away when there are no other family members.

“In one case I met with the Registrar at the local Town Hall to officially register a death and receive the official death certificate which was crucial to progress the person’s estate. I would be officially named as “the Informant” on the death certificate and had to confirm the accuracy of the personal details to be included on the certificate,” said David Webb.

“On another occasion part of an estate contained a cabinet with an unusual Lladro collection, Disney themed figurines and a collection of old branded watches. An auctioneer prepared formal valuations of the collectibles for Probate purposes as it all had to be declared to HMRC. To my surprise, the Lladro collection fetched over £500 and coupled with the valuable watches and Disney figurines a “four figure” value had to be included in my estate papers,” he added.

“I’ve hired cleaners, booked skips and have even found myself having to work remotely at the home of a deceased client whilst awaiting agents, cleaners and charity representatives, but thankfully the “Wi-Fi hotspot” from my phone was sufficient.”

Who can apply for Probate?

Only certain people can apply for Probate and if there is a valid Will it’s the named executors. However, if there is no Will it’s usually the closest living relative, normally a husband, wife or civil partner (including if you were separated) but you cannot apply if you’re just the partner of the deceased and that’s why it’s important to have a good up to date Will stating what you want to happen when you pass away.  Any children 18 or over (including legally adopted children but not step-children) can also apply.

You’ll usually get the Grant of Probate within 16 weeks of submitting your application, but sometimes if there have been mistakes in paperwork it can take longer and that’s why it pays to get good advice.

When the grant is issued the estate can be dealt with and copies of the Probate document can be sent to organisations holding the assets of the person who died, for example banks or building societies.

“No two days are alike but I enjoy what I do, helping make a difference and steering clients through what is a difficult time,” said David.

How can we help?

If you are managing the administration of an estate and feeling overwhelmed contact our probate lawyers on 0161 785 3500 or email for help on the administration of assets, trusts, pensions and any properties. 

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by David Webb


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