Should I deal with Probate myself or should I instruct a Solicitor?





Lucy Court – Solicitor

When somebody passes away, it is the responsibility of the Executor or Administrator to deal with the estate of the deceased and to ensure that it is distributed correctly and in accordance with the terms of the Will.

The Probate Service has recently changed its procedure so that Probate can now be applied for online without the need for an Executor to swear an Oath in the presence of a Solicitor. This has resulted in many Executors attempting to apply for Probate themselves without instructing a professional for assistance.

Whilst applying for Probate without a Solicitor may reduce costs in the short-term, many Executors do not consider the complexities that can arise when dealing with a deceased’s estate. Additionally, many Executors are not aware that they can be held personally liable if mistakes are made.

Below are 8 instances whereby an Executor may wish to instruct a Solicitor to act on their behalf in a Probate Matter:

  1. To determine whether a Grant of Probate is required. If a Grant is needed and the net estate is above £5,000, the Probate application fee is £60 less when applying through a firm of Solicitors.
  2. The validity of the Will is questionable, or the terms of the Will are not clear, for example where the deceased has drafted their Will themselves or where the Will has been damaged.
  3. The estate includes complex assets, for example foreign assets, assets held in Trust or business assets.
  4. A family member or dependant has been excluded as a beneficiary in the Will, which has the potential to give rise to a claim against the deceased’s estate.
  5. The deceased died without leaving a Will. In this circumstance, specific legal statute needs to be followed to determine whom is to inherit from the deceased’s estate.
  6. The Executors do not get along or disagree on certain points. Appointing a Solicitor reduces the possibility of conflict or arguments.
  7. The estate is subject to the payment of Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Inheritance Tax. Many Executors are not aware of the full range of allowances available when deciding how much Inheritance Tax is payable, such as the Nil Rate Band and the Residence Nil Rate Band and the fact that these can be transferred between spouses. Appointing a Solicitor ensures that the available allowances can be maximised so that all beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to.
  8. Where professional valuations of estate assets are required. Some businesses have postponed valuations or are experiencing lengthy delays due to Covid-19. However, our firm of Solicitors has a bank of contacts available to carry out valuations in a timely manner.

Even in matters where the nature of the deceased’s estate is not complex, dealing with the affairs of a loved one who has passed away is not only time-consuming, but also stressful and emotionally challenging whilst going through a grieving process.

For a confidential discussion about how we can assist you with Probate, please contact us on 0116 255 1811 or learn more here.