Losing a loved one is a difficult experience for anyone and it can be made even harder by the complicated duties that have to be carried out in the aftermath. Aside from the initial tasks of informing close friends, employers and family and arranging a funeral, there is also the much more complex job of handling and distributing their estate.
In order to be granted access to the deceased’s assets (if above £10,000) and begin distributing them, a grant of probate must first be obtained and the estate valued. Traditionally, this role has been fulfilled by a solicitor, however in recent years there has been a growing trend towards so called “do-it-yourself” probate.
It is understandable that there is a wish to keep costs to a minimum when handling an estate. However, aside from the most obvious aspect of the intensive amount of time that is involved in these cases, especially when having to deal with lots of third parties who might take a long time to get their own affairs in order, there is also the potential for errors which could lead to further and unnecessary costs.
The person in charge of handling an estate, known as an executor or administrator, is also actually financially responsible for any mistakes that are made during the process. Bearing in mind that there are over 20 forms which need to be completed when applying for probate, the chances are quite high of an error being made. If HMRC were to challenge one of these errors, or even something that wasn’t an error, would you know how to respond? There can be financial penalties involved for mistakes, so it is imperative to get things right, especially if keeping costs down is your aim.
There is a lot of responsibility involved with executing a will and there is the potential for mistrust between parties, especially when there are conflicts over the terms of the will. If you are an executor but also a beneficiary and a family member for example, you may end up at odds with another family member, leading to arguments. Having an impartial solicitor to oversee the process can lessen the chances of negative feelings arising.
Although it might be true that for less complex cases areas of probate may be more manageable, it can still help to have the experience of a solicitor who can offer a neutral approach to the situation, with less chance of error and an idea as to how to make things move quickly.
Here at Rollingsons we can offer a broad range of advice on probate and wills and tax planning, helping to guide you through what can be a complex process. For more information or to arrange an initial consultation, please contact us on 0207 7611 4848.