You and the Law – 10th January 2012

What is required

I am an 80-year-old widower living alone.  I have about £10,000 in the bank.  I have made a will in favour of my son.  When is probate necessary, what does it mean and what does it cost?  AH

Probate is the document which confirms that a will is valid and states who the executors are.   It authorises the executors to gain access to bank accounts, shares and investments and to deal with the property of the deceased.  The purpose of the probate laws are, among other things, to ensure that the provisions of the will are carried out and, of course, to ensure that inheritance tax is paid where applicable.  Where small sums (usually less than £5,000) are involved, financial institutions may pay the money over to an executor without requiring to see authorisation, or a ‘Grant of Probate’. If it’s required, a direct application to the probate registry by the executors will cost £105.

Up the garden path

A footpath crosses our farm and now a member of the public has applied to the council to establish a new path leading from it past the front of our house.  This would affect our privacy and devalue our house, but the person who has applied says there used to be a path there.  Will the person concerned have had to pay a fee to have the path opened?  JW

The council has a responsibility to ensure that rights of way are not closed off, so there is no fee for asking it to do its duty. Similarly, there’s no fee for diverting a footpath if it’s in the public interest.  It only costs where the diversion is in the landowneris interest.  The person who has applied will have to prove that the footpath used to exist, either from maps or from statements from people who used to use it.  But a footpath cannot be lost because it is no longer used, it can only be closed by an order made under st atute.

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