Be cautious of DIY Probate

Probate is the term given to the administration of an estate of the deceased.

Either a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or Letter of Administration (if there isn’t) is applied for by the executors or administrators. The grant is the court’s authority for that person to deal with the assets of the deceased and distribute them in accordance with the terms of the Will or the Intestacy Rules.

Who conducts Probate?

If there is a valid Will, the executors named will be legally responsible for identifying the assets and liabilities of the estate, paying all debts and distributing the net estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. If there is no Will Intestacy Law determines not only who receives the assets of the deceased but also who is eligible to deal with the administration of the estate.

Grant of Representation

When the deceased has left a minimal amount of funds (a few thousand pounds or less) and only a few personal possessions it is unlikely that a Grant of Representation is required. When there are a significant amount of assets, or if the estate is particularly complex, a Grant of Representation is likely to be needed to administer the estate effectively.

When do I need a Grant of Representation?

  • Where there are significant funds in a bank or building society across all the accounts in that one financial institution.  The level of funds varies from one institution to another but is usually over £50k
  • Where the deceased owned a property either in their sole name or with another person as tenants in common
  • Where there is a substantial holding of stocks and shares
  • Where there are business interests
  • Where there are foreign assets
For those who are unfamiliar with the process, probate can be a daunting task, which can often involve exhaustive enquiries into debts, assets or pensions. Conducting the Probate yourself can seem like an attractive option, but an understandable lack of knowledge in technical legal areas can often lead to mistakes and delays to the process. In turn, this can create pressure, liability and stress at what is already a difficult time.

Undertaking Probate yourself

Administering an estate can seem like a manageable task. However, it can quickly lead to executors/administrators trying to undertake a task without essential knowledge. Common mistakes made by those who undertake Probate include:
  • Undervaluing the estate for Inheritance Tax purposes. This can result in additional capital gains tax
  • Failing to identify or locate all assets
  • Failing to identify beneficiaries who are entitled to inherit
  • Failing to pay Inheritance Tax within the strict time deadlines
  • Paying too much tax due to unfamiliarity with complex rules
  • Failing to implement a Trust contained in the Will – this is a very common scenario. Ignoring a Trust and the obligations that go with it will not make it go away.
  • Failing to pay gifts to children correctly
  • Failing to pay all the deceased’s debts or, where an estate is insolvent, in their correct order
  • Failing to obtain bankruptcy searches against the beneficiaries
  • Failing to place Trustee Act Notices
  • Failing to allow sufficient time for claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975 resulting in no protection for the executors
“DIY” Probate can also result in mistrust between family members and potentially, greater costs to the estate to put things right.

Probate options

Donnelly& Elliott are experienced probate solicitors. By working with us, you’ll have a single point of contact for all your questions and queries, which will be managed with professionalism and care. Usually, we are available in our Gosport office on Stoke Road for face-to-face advice; however, given the current government advice on social distancing, we have temporarily closed our offices to the public. We are still open and available for advice and support during our usual working hours via email, video call or the telephone.

Fixed pricing

Our clear pricing policy with fixed fees gives our customers peace of mind. Donnelly & Elliott will support you with all aspects of probate, from obtaining the Grant of Probate on your behalf to administering the full estate. Our qualified solicitors care about the service they provide and are fully insured and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. While the price of “DIY” or online probate services may appear lower, potential hidden costs, additional stress, countless hours on the phone and additional tax liability is something that you do not need to worry about while you are grieving for a loved one. Our experienced Trusts & Estate team is here to support you at this difficult time with the expertise you expect and the compassion you deserve. Contact us today on 02392 50 55 00 or email enqs@donnelly-elliott.co.uk