Probate is a process that is often required when a person dies, before their relatives can deal with their property and distribute it as the deceased’s Will requires. If the person’s assets total more than £10,000 and/or they own property in their sole name, then probate is likely to be required.

In most cases the executors (the people nominated in a Will to deal with the deceased person’s assets) would engage a professional, usually a solicitor, to manage the probate process. This can cost anywhere up to £5,000 plus VAT for an estate up to £100,000 (, though it could be more. Hence the rise of ‘pre-paid probate’, whereby a person pays a company a fixed fee now to carry out the probate work after they die.

There are many risks involved in this, and it is not something that Lakes Wills Ltd recommends you engage in. For example, many companies will sell the policy without looking in detail at your assets, thus further costs may be required when you have died. Your situation could change between now and when you die, meaning you may have underpaid or overpaid. There are even some providers who will still charge your family the £273 ( government application fee when you have died!

In all cases however, pre-paid probate is unregulated, meaning that if the provider of your pre-paid probate policy ceases trading before you die, your money is lost. Or they could do a poor job when the time comes, but there is no regulator to complain to.

Pre-paid probate is a relatively new service but, at least until more consumer protection is in place, it is not something that Lakes Wills Ltd recommends.

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