The risks of DIY probate applications
Some people believe that by making an application for a Grant of Probate themselves rather than instructing solicitors will save them fees and ensure that the process does not become a lengthy, protracted one. Very much the opposite. Servicing your own car would be considered dangerous and the same applies with Probate Law and Tax. Mistakes by a Personal Representative could be very expensive. Executors/Personal Representatives are personally responsible to the Estate and the beneficiaries if anything goes wrong.
Cases abound as Executors being sued by beneficiaries or being personally liable for outstanding tax. Remember, you do not know what you don’t know.
Dealing with the estate of a loved one is very time-consuming at an emotional time. The Executors/Personal Representatives have to be willing to invest time to ascertain the extent of the assets and liabilities of the estate to prepare the probate papers and possibly to attend at an interview at the Probate Registry to obtain the Grant of Probate. Once the Grant of Probate has been obtained they will then need to collect in all the assets and distribute them in accordance with the Will or Letters of Administration on intestacy. Clearly there is a risk that certain things will be overlooked, in particular such things as the income tax position of the deceased with HM Revenue & Customs, protecting the Estate from any claims by advertising and minimising any tax payable.
Instructing a solicitor to act on your behalf could actually save the Estate money. An experienced probate solicitor ensures that the minimum amount of tax on the Estate is paid and the savings can be substantial. It is possible to prepare a Deed of Variation varying the terms of a Will to ensure that the Will is tax-efficient at the time of death and instructing an experienced probate solicitor ensures not only that the correct tax is paid on the Estate and kept to a minimum but the Estate is protected from any future claims. We can ensure the most tax-efficient outcome for the Estate meaning that the beneficiaries may actually receive more than if the application was made personally. Any mistake made by a Personal Representative or an Executor could be a very expensive one and the beneficiaries are entitled to pursue the Executors and Personal Representatives for any loss to the Estate caused by any unnecessary tax payment or failure to carry out a relevant step in the process.
Instructing a probate solicitor is especially important if the Estate is taxable, if the beneficiaries are under the age of 18 or if there is anyone likely to dispute a Will. Instructing a solicitor will ensure you are advised of any tax saving measures available which will provide a more tax-efficient outcome for the Estate meaning this would be passed on to the beneficiaries.
Please call Avril Turner for advice and assistance on matters concerning Wills, Probate, Powers of Attorney or the financial affairs of the elderly.