By James Mabey, Senior Associate at Winckworth Sherwood
Amid the current cost of living crisis and economic backdrop, it is understandable that many executors will decide to administer a deceased’s estate themselves and dispense with the cost of instructing a solicitor. We have compiled a list of 5 key reasons why it pays to pay for Probate.
- Protection from financial risk:
Executors are accountable to beneficiaries and are liable personally for anything that goes wrong, and so administering an estate oneself, rather than instructing a solicitor, means taking on additional risk. This can be exacerbated by the fact that for many executors, it will be the first time they have carried out the role. Unfamiliarity with the Court system, dealing with HM Revenue & Customs, HM Land Registry and generally with financial organisations can all mean that important deadlines are missed and financial penalties can result. If something goes wrong and you have instructed a solicitor, you can complain to them and have the benefit of their indemnity insurance. . Instructing a solicitor to handle the estate can therefore give you peace of mind – not just that you are in safe hands, but also that you have an added layer of protection.
- Relying on a solicitor’s expertise and access to resources
Instructing a solicitor who carries out this work on a daily basis and is familiar with the deadlines and organisations mentioned has a lot of advantages. A solicitor will have access to precedent letters and software specifically designed for completing and filing necessary documents, not to mention technical resources if there is a point of law or procedure which needs addressing, or the expertise within their firm to draw on. Unless you have access to these resources and software yourself, it is likely to take you longer than it would take a solicitor to complete the same work.
- It saves you time
Administering an estate is a time-consuming process, with lots of the correspondence involved still needing to be carried out by letter. It is not uncommon for the administration to take one or even two years. More complicated estates can take even longer to administer. The amount of work required often comes as a surprise to an executor and the time involved can interfere with other work you might be carrying out, or simply eat into spare time. A solicitor can therefore help to free up evenings and weekends which you would otherwise spend on administering an estate.
- It is a burden
If the person who has died is a family member or friend, you will be grieving at the same time as dealing with their estate, which is a double burden. As the months go by, beneficiaries can get restless and want to know when a property is going to be sold or when they are likely to receive their inheritance. Solicitors are familiar with the stages of an administration and timeframes and can manage expectations accordingly in their capacity as professionals. The recent delays in applications for Probate have put an even greater strain on executors trying to manage expectations themselves.
- And finally…The costs are more manageable than you might think
While solicitors’ fees for administering an estate may seem large, they often amount to between 1.5% and 3.5% plus VAT of the value of the gross estate. The fees are not payable by you personally and are payable out of the estate.