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Law After Life: What is Probate Law?

There are numerous different areas of law to get excited about whilst studying. Deciding what field you are interested in can be daunting so the more you understand about each of the areas will make that decision easier.  Here we focus on probate law, what it is, what a probate solicitor is responsible for, and what you will learn on our course to kick start your career.

By Elsa Tatam. Published 30 January 2023. 

What is probate?

Probate is the legal right to deal with someone's property, money and possessions when they die. If the deceased left a will, the specified executor or executors will be expected to “execute” the will, however before the executor starts, they will need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This is a legal document that gives them the authority to deal with the deceased’s property. Probate will then end once all debts have been paid and all inheritance passed on.

What is a probate lawyer?

A probate lawyer, or sometimes called a probate solicitor, is there to help family members settle debts and distribute assets following the passing of a loved one. Probate lawyers help the executor of the will with the probate process.

What does a probate lawyer do?

Solicitors who work with probate law will have numerous responsibilities. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Supporting the executors
  • Obtaining the grant of probate
  • Completing inheritance tax returns
  • Collecting the deceased's assets
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries
  • Preparing necessary estate accounts
  • Making sure the will is in order and legal

Probate can also be complicated, particularly if there are any disagreements between the executor, beneficiaries, creditors, or HMRC. Solicitors can advise the various parties or help with the different stages of the probate process. This is especially important if disputes are stopping clients from making progress. Furthermore, if the executor would prefer, the solicitor can even take their duties entirely.

How to practise probate law:

If you are hoping to work in the field of probate law, we offer a comprehensive course providing a recognised qualification in partnership with the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), giving your career a real boost.

The course is predominantly distance learning, but it is supported by study and designed to develop expertise in contentious trusts and probate. It is a flexible course designed to be studied over two years, however we offer an option to defer parts into a third year.

If you opt to study the ACTAPS Programme with us, you will learn to:

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of a client’s claim in probate and trust disputes
  • Progress a case using correct procedure
  • Draft appropriate documentation and letters
  • Determine a basis for negotiation
  • Assist a client in alternative dispute resolution
  • Advise settlors, beneficiaries and trustees where there is a possibility that a trust may be a sham
  • Advise on steps to trace and recover assets

See our website for more information on our Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists course.