Do it yourself probate (England and Wales) – is it for you?
Do it yourself probate can substantially reduce costs, and even speed things up if you have nothing else to worry about. However, it can also land you in deep trouble with the Taxman, the beneficiaries and people who think they should be beneficiaries but are not. Worst case scenario is dire. But most of the time, things won’t be that bad (and you can always hand it over to us if the going gets tough!)
Do it yourself probate – some cases where you maybe should not DIY .
- If the estate contains trusts.
- If inheritance tax might be payable (our tax experts may save you more than our fees.)
- If there may have been substantial gifts over the previous 7 (and sometimes 14) years.
- Where there are overseas assets.
- Where the may be family arguments (too many families never make up again – if we do it, you can blame us!) Ending up in Court may mean no one inherits anything but debt and bitterness.
- Where you don’t have the time or administrative skills.
But what other options are there to DIY Probate?
At The Probate Department Ltd solicitors, we can do as much or as little of the work as you like. But we also offer a DIY Probate Service where you get all the information, we give it the once over, then fill in the forms. The forms are often the most difficult part of the process. If you need a little help over and above that, we just charge for the time spent, which may just be a few minutes (although, to be fair, it is usually longer than that, but we try to keep it to a minimum).
As things stand, well over half of probate applications are by solicitors. DIY Probate accounts for maybe a third. Our DIY Probate Service aims to help those who are not quite confident or time rich enough. Even those with really complex estates where our IHT expertise can pay real dividends can cut costs by collecting in all the basic information, and not paying us to do it.
Legal Responsibilities of Do It Yourself Probate.
The executor is legally responsible for meeting all genuine claims on the estate. That may include debts (known and unknown), income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax. They must also consider the possibility of anyone claiming under the Inheritance Acts for family provision. Get it wrong and you could get personal penalties from the Taxman. If you don’t get it right, you could be sued by beneficiaries or creditors.
DIY Probate stages explained.
The executor must:
- Protect the estate with all that involves.
- Value the estate.
- Find out what the liabilities are.
- Pay any tax due of whatever type, including income tax, IHT etc etc.
- Apply for a grant of probate.
- Administer the estate. That means to gather information on all the assets and liabilities, pay the bills, and eventually pay out the beneficiaries. Very often do it yourself probaters get this wrong because they don’t understand the real meaning of the clauses in the Will. Or the executor doesn’t understand how the Rules of Intestacy work.
With us, we can get the grant of probate for you. You could, if you wished, take over the rest of the estate administration yourself.
We do offer a free guide to Do It Yourself Probate (by email only, I am afraid). Just use the form alongside.