Do I need a solicitor for Probate?
When someone passes away and you want to be granted Probate, in England and Wales you don’t have to use a solicitor. In fact, according to recent surveys by Which? Magazine, around a third of people do a form of DIY Probate. With banks charging anything up to 6% of an estate’s asset value for handling Probate is it any surprise that people want to look at the DIY option?
However, at Solomons Solicitors, we would always advise that a solicitor is consulted. That’s because when you are named as an executor in a will, or when you apply for Probate as someone’s next of kin, you might not realise that if you don’t get things absolutely right there can be serious consequences. This can put you in an awkward position, or even make you liable to being sued.
Probate and estate administration can take more than a year to be completed
The fact is that applying for Probate and dealing with administration thereafter with Probate can take up a lot of time. It may be that you have hours and hours to spare, that you want to do all the research and apply for everything or that you want to make the Inheritance Tax calculations.
Whilst obtaining grant of Probate doesn’t ordinarily take longer than 4 to 12 weeks on average (depending on whether tax is payable or not), completing administration of the estate thereafter, take a year or more and many people do not want it hanging over their head, being responsible for the family, and the questions that they get about money and property, particularly “who is getting what, and when”.
Do all estates require Probate to be granted?
Where the deceased didn’t own property, investments, shares or land or have much money in the bank, you may be able to close accounts without the bank requesting Probate to release funds, it just depends on the bank or building society rules they use. But generally, estates do require Probate and if in doubt, a quick call to our office will put your mind at ease.
As a very quick rule, if the estate is taxable, if the will is not clear, if there is a Trust involved (either money or property), if there are children under 18 as beneficiaries, land or property owned abroad or a business involved – it is wise to get legal expertise.
Emotions can lead to financial mistakes with Probate and estate administration
As well as time and technical factors, the process of applying for Probate and dealing with administration of the estate can be emotionally draining.
After all, someone has just passed away. Being in the right frame of mind to handle this process isn’t always easy. You’ll have to make sure all assets are distributed properly and at the right time to ensure you do not expose yourself to potential claims by aggrieved beneficiaries, creditors or the HMRC after you have distributed the estate funds.
It is easy to make a mistake with Inheritance Tax issues, especially in instances when it may be possible to reduce it, but this often requires bespoke legal knowledge.
By handling Probate and estate administration yourself, you accept liability. When things go wrong, you could be sued by the beneficiaries or other interested parties.
Families are now more complicated than ever, contested Probate cases continue to increase in number and at Solomons Solicitors we are seeing more and more.
For all these reasons, we always recommend using a specialist Probate solicitor, and we are one of the most experienced firms in the Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset area.
Peace of mind
We are transparent in our pricing and offer bespoke fixed fees to accommodate your requirements. Our services and fees range from simply applying for grant of Probate on your behalf (and you deal with estate administration yourself) to dealing with full estate administration thereafter. In many cases, our fees are covered by inheritance tax savings achieved.
We take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate, leaving you with peace of mind that it will be done correctly, and you won’t have any nasty surprises, either during the process or at any time in the future.
Whether you use a Solicitor for Probate and/or estate administration, is an individual and personal choice. We hope that you are now a little more informed about whether you need a solicitor for Probate and what is the right choice for you.