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Do I Need a Probate Solicitor?

I am not a qualified mechanic and so would not service my own car. Using the same logic, why would you attempt probate without the help of a qualified person who deals with this daily?

Every estate is different and requires thought and skill to administer. If you are appointed as an Executor of a Will or need to act as Administrator of an estate where a relative has died without leaving a Will, here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide whether to go it alone or seek professional assistance in respect or your duties and obligations:

Most estates necessitate an application to Court for a Grant of Probate/Representation to handle the deceased’s assets. A Grant of Probate will not be available until an Inheritance Tax Account is submitted and tax is paid, if due. Did you know that Executors often need to consider and account for other taxes in addition to Inheritance Tax as part of the administration of an estate such as Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax?

Do you know what triggers the need to submit a long-form Inheritance Tax Account?

Are you aware of what information needs to be retained and later reported when there is a need to claim to transfer unused tax allowances from one estate to another?

Are you fully confident that on the subject of jointly held property you know the difference between a joint tenancy and tenancy in common? It is important that the deceased’s interest in a jointly held property is correctly declared, valued and understood in the context of their Will and succession generally.

Do you know what steps you need to take as an Executor to absolve yourself of personal liability from over-distributing an estate where unknown creditors rear their heads after you think all has been settled?

If there are other Executors appointed to act with you, do you know on what basis you must act? By majority, jointly, severally?

It may seem practical to use a dormant personal savings accounts as your “Executor’s Account” but had you thought about what might happen to these funds if the sums held are in excess of what the FSCS protects in the event of your bank or building society failing, or worse, where the monies pass if something unexpected were to happen to you whilst you are administering the estate?

Do you know what you must do if you are unable to pay a pecuniary legacy to a legatee within a year of the death?

The questions above cover a few rather average points Executors can come across when administering an estate. If you are not clear on what these questions evoke, you would be well advised to seek professional assistance in administering the estate for which you are responsible.

Going back to where we started, say I chose to save some pennies and serviced my own car, I know I would not want to be accountable to any parties that had suffered from my well meaning but unwitting hands.

For advice on Probate Matters please contact Charlotte Nock in our Private Client Department.

Please read Reliance on information posted in our Terms of Website Use - see Legal section - before relying on this commentary.

Before relying on this commentary please read the Reliance on information posted section in our Terms of Website Use in our Legal section. Please note that specialist advice should be taken in relation to any specific queries and the information above is provided for general information purposes only.


Charlotte Nock

Head of Department
Wills, Tax & Estate Administration


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Susan Jull

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