Do I need a Solicitor to obtain Probate?
Any Executor named in someone’s Will has to decide whether they need professional help or whether they feel comfortable administering the estate without such help. Midwinters Partner, Mark Lynham (email@example.com ), explains more:
If you are named as an Executor in the Will and decide to accept the appointment (see the earlier Midwinters article “What are the risks of being an Executor?” for more information), you then need to decide whether you will attempt to administer the estate yourself without the help of a professional such as a solicitor or whether you need to seek some advice, initially at least.
There is no requirement for an Executor to use a solicitor and you may feel comfortable with making the legal application for the Grant and administering the estate. This can sometimes be a complex task however and if mistakes are made then the Executor may find themselves being held personally liable for any losses suffered by the Beneficiaries.
Errors made by Executor acting without legal assistance include:
- Failing to properly value the estate in accordance with legal requirements;
- Failing to claim the correct amount of tax relief/exemptions and therefore paying an incorrect amount of tax;
- Failing to properly identify the Beneficiaries (especially if there is no Will or a gift in a Will to a class of beneficiaries (e.g. “my nephews and nieces”) and therefore making an incorrect distribution; and,
- Failing to appreciate the time limits involved in respect of Inheritance Tax, claims against the estate, etc.
More than 6 in 10 applications for a Grant of Probate are made by solicitors and so it is the most common way to obtain Probate in the United Kingdom. Using a solicitor is usually considered a reasonable expense and so you should not be criticised by the Beneficiaries for doing so. Also, if the Executor is not also a Beneficiary, they have nothing to gain personally from not incurring legal costs.
Using a solicitor has a number of advantages, including:
- Your solicitor should be a Probate specialist with years of experience of administering all types of estate so mistakes and delays can be avoided;
- Solicitors are subject to extensive regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which ensure that your interests are protected;
- Solicitors have professional insurance so that, if things do go wrong, there should be insurance to compensate any who loses out financially; and,
- Solicitors would be an independent party in the event of there being disputes or issues between family members.
Finally, at Midwinters, our Probate specialists work closely with our Property specialists so that if the estate includes a property, a comprehensive legal service can be provided.
This is a very brief summary of the factors to consider when thinking about using a solicitor for Probate.
At Midwinters, we can offer an obligation-free initial appointment and can tailor our services to suit your particular circumstances. Please call us on 01242 514 674 to discuss further.