DIY probate or do I need a specialist probate lawyer?
More and more people are proving the Wills of their loved ones themselves without help from a lawyer. So just what is involved?
Proving the Will or obtaining grant of probate, in essence means having the High Court confirm that your loved one’s Will is the true last Will. Once confirmed it will issue evidence of this in writing otherwise known as a grant of probate.
Small estates: if there is under, for example, £15,000 in a Bank account then there is a good chance the Bank will pay the money out without seeing a grant of probate, but they will of course need to see the death certificate and I.D. for yourself.
No Will can be found: if there is not one, then enquiries need to be made to see if one existed, but perhaps placed somewhere such as with a Bank or lawyer. The starting point of your enquiries is the legal firms where the person lived and Banks they used. You can contact the lawyers yourselves. You can also search national Wills registers such as Certainty. Where none can be found then the person will be deemed to have died intestate and it would be prudent to seek legal advice.
If a Will exists then who are the executors? If it is not you then step away unless you think you have a claim on the estate when again take legal advice.
If you are the executor then it is your choice. Remember there can be a fair amount of tax and other legal implications taking from a few months to a year or more to manage. You will be legally liable. Probate is nearly always required if there is house or shares, save perhaps where the house passes by survivorship to a joint owner.
Another factor is your time. You may be capable of dealing with the administration yourself but do not have the time. You could ask us to undertake certain aspects of the work such as obtaining the probate alone or handling any conveyancing. Probate can take as much as 60 to 100 hours of detailed administrative work, and especially so if there are tax issues or many beneficiaries.
At the end of the day you are considering dealing with probate to save the estate money. By using Paul Wilks & Co, you are paying for our expertise and knowledge of the legal processes that could ultimately save you and the estate.
• Paying for the funeral – Banks usually release money from the deceased’s account to pay for this.
• Assess the value and then complete a probate application form (PA1).
• You will also need to send form IHT205 or IHT400 to HMRC to agree the Inheritance tax. If there is a potential to pay tax then give us a ring.
• Once probate is granted, you can administer the estate. This means collecting in all the money, paying all bills, distributing the estate and preparing final accounts.