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Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions about the services we offer, please don’t hesitate to contact us on  01795 477505 or email us and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively, you may find the answer to your question below in our frequently asked questions section.


Wills & Probate

Can I contest a will?

A will can be contested on the following grounds: 

  • If the deceased was not in their right mind when making or signing the will
  • If the will was made incorrectly or signed without witnesses
  • If the will or signature was forged or fraudulent 
  • If the person was coerced or under duress when making the will

Only those who have a legal right under the Inheritance Act can legally contest a will. Therefore, you must be:

  • Direct family member
  • The deceased’s spouse
  • A financial dependent of the deceased
  • A creditor of the deceased
  • Someone who was named a beneficiary in a previous copy of the will
  • Someone who was promised something by the deceased, but not included in the will

If you’d like to find out more about the process of contesting a will, contact Ratcliffes Solicitors on  01795 477505. We specialise in wills and probate, especially where probate is contested. Find out more about our wills and probate services in Sittingbourne. 


What do I need to do when someone dies?

Once a person has died, you will need to register their death and obtain a death certificate. If they left a valid will, they will likely have named an executor to deal with their affairs. The executor will usually need to apply for probate. At this stage, it is best to hire a probate solicitor to guide you through the process. 

If there is no will, a person who is closely linked to the deceased can apply for a grant of probate to make them an administrator of the person’s estate. Read this guide from the Money Advice Service for more details. 


Can solicitors be executors of wills?

You can choose your solicitor to be the executor of your will. In fact, you can choose up to four executors, allowing for both family and professionals to act on your behalf. It is wise to appoint a solicitor as an executor, particularly when the estate is large or especially complex. A solicitor can navigate legal requirements and the laws around property and tax efficiently, making the process easier for all involved. 


Property & Conveyancing 


Why do I need a solicitor when buying or selling a house?

The sale of property involves a certain amount of legal work to be carried out to meet requirements and ensure the transaction is valid and completed in full. This is known as conveyancing. It is wise therefore to hire an experienced conveyancing solicitor who can deal with the legal side of things on your behalf. For friendly local conveyancing solicitors in Sittingbourne, contact Ratcliffes today. 


What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing involves the transfer of property from one party to another. Exchanging contracts is the legal process that commits both the buyer and seller to the sale of the property. Until this occurs, the sale is not legally binding. A conveyancing solicitor will ensure that the deeds are transferred legally. 


How much are conveyancing fees?

The cost of conveyancing will depend on the property value, whether you are buying or selling and whether it is a leasehold or freehold property. At Ratcliffes, our conveyancing fees vary for properties valued up to £300,000, £300,001 to £500,000, £500,001 to £1 million and over £1 million. You should also take into account other fees such as disbursements, search fees, HM Land Registry and Stamp Duty. You can see all of our conveyancing quote estimates on our website. To find out more, contact us on  01795 477505


Family Law

Can divorce proceedings be put on hold?

If you and your spouse decide to reconcile, you can choose to withdraw your divorce petition. If you have a decree nisi, you should contact their solicitor to inform them that you are not going through with the divorce. Divorce proceedings can be stopped at any time until the decree absolute is granted. 


What is the divorce process?

To begin the divorce process, one or both parties will need to file a divorce petition. You can apply online and will need to pay a court fee. The petition will be sent to your spouse. If the petition is acknowledged, the acknowledgement is sent back to the court and the petitioner. If it is not acknowledged, the petitioner can arrange for the respondent to be served with the documents. The petitioner can then file for a decree nisi, which will be considered by a judge. If the petition is accepted, a decree nisi is pronounced. After six weeks and one day, the petitioner can apply for a decree absolute. Once granted, the decree absolute is issued and the divorce is final. 

For advice and guidance on issues surrounding divorce and other matrimonial matters, speak to Ratcliffes, local family lawyers in Sittingbourne, Kent.   




Can I get legal aid?

If you are being charged with a criminal offence, you may be entitled to legal aid if you are under 18 or receiving certain benefits. You may also be means-tested to determine whether you are eligible. 

If your case is a civil matter, you must demonstrate that the dispute is serious and that you cannot cover the costs yourself. Costs may have to be repaid however, should you win your case. Legal aid is only available for some civil matters such as family and children, housing and discrimination. You can check your eligibility on the government website. Please note that Ratcliffes Solicitors do not currently work on legal aid cases. 


Can solicitors certify documents?

A solicitor can certify a document that is a true copy of the original. This includes passports, letters from the government, bills or driving licences. However, the solicitor cannot be related to you, in a relationship with you or living at the same address. A nominal fee will be involved.


About Ratcliffes


Do you make home visits?

Yes, we can make home visits and also offer some weekend appointments. Home visits are typically used for services such as will writing and lasting power of attorney. If you cannot get to our offices, you can get in touch with us and request a home visit.


Which areas do you serve?

We work with clients throughout Sittingbourne and the surrounding areas, including Faversham, Sheerness, Gillingham, the Isle of Sheppey, Newnham and Rainham. To book an appointment with a member of our team, contact  01795 477505 or email us.