If you are named as the executor in a will, and the person whose will it is dies, you then have responsibility of getting probate on the estate. It’s worth pointing out right away that being named in a will as executor does not place any kind of legal obligation on you. You can choose to turn down the position.
Assuming you do accept, you will either have to apply for a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry office yourself, or you’ll have to pay a representative, usually a solicitor or accountant, to do it for you. Either way, you’ll have to pay some fees and charges. You need to get probate in order to have the legal authority to deal with the affairs of the deceased such as selling property and ensuring that named beneficiaries get their inheritance.
There are circumstances in which you can avoid the payment of any fees for getting probate. If an estate has a total worth of less than £5,000 then in most cases it is not necessary to get probate. The total worth of an estate is calculated by adding up all the assets such as cash, bank deposits, personal items like jewellery and any vehicles and subtracting any debts outstanding from that sum. You can also subtract the costs of the funeral, likely to be several thousand pounds at today’s prices.
Obtaining a Grant of Representation attracts a standard Probate Service fee of £215 for a personal application and of £155 for an application by a professional. The cost of each certified copy of the Grant issued at the same time as the original application is 50p.
When there is no executor, someone is appointed as administrator, usually either a close relative or a solicitor. In that case the administrator must apply for Letters of Administration which have a similar legal standing as a Grant of Representation. The application process is much the same as for a Grant of Representation and the fees are at the same level.
If you choose to use a solicitor to get probate for the estate, then they will of course make a charge for this service. Some firms will take a set percentage of the value of the estate while others will charge an hourly rate for their professional services. If you do engage a solicitor, you should take care to agree the terms of their employment before proceeding.