If you have been chosen to be the executor of someone’s will then you will, at some point, come across the issue of probate. Essentially this is the official proving of a will and dealing with the assets of someone who has died, including their property, savings and other possessions. Only when probate has been granted can a named executor begin disposing of the deceased’s assets in accordance with their will.
When applying for probate there are two approaches. Either you can do it yourself or you can instruct a specialist probate solicitor. While cost might be an issue, most people find that getting a professional involved, particularly when the will is a little more complicated. This can save time and money in the long run.
Have You Got the Time?
Handling probate can take a considerable amount of involvement and energy, so the first thing you need to decide is whether you have that time available. A qualified probate solicitor can take anything up to between 6 and 12 months to sort out probate and settle any tax issues.
Have You Got the Expertise?
You also need to be sure that you have access to the right expertise. For small estates, going the DIY route may well be the sensible thing to do but for anything more complex you really need the opportunity to draw on someone’s experience. You might, for instance, incorrectly value the estate of the deceased or you may well get the tax that needs to be paid wrong. With the backup of a probate solicitor you reduce your risk of making errors.
You Are Legally Responsible
When you are charged with executing an estate you actually have a legal responsibility to get it right. If you are not sure of what you are doing or whether you have valued the estate properly and covered all the tax issues or distributed the assets exactly according to the terms of probate and the will, then you could be open to prosecution and incur costs if you are found to be at fault. An experienced legal expert is able to essentially guide you through the process and ensure you stay on track.
Dealing with a loved one’s will can also be a highly emotional period in your life. It’s easy to make mistakes when you are still grieving and having that support from a legal expert who knows the ins and outs of probate can be a good way to take the weight off your shoulders.
Particularly for large estates and more complex wills, taking on a probate expert is an absolute must. If there is likely to be anyone contesting the will you also need good legal advice.
At Forster Dean Solicitors, we have a whole team of highly experienced team of probate experts who know what they are talking about. If you are not sure whether you need to hire us, the good news is that you can get an initial free consultation to fully understand where you stand. There’s no pressure to take it any further after that but at least you’ll know the implications of any decisions you take, including hiring a professional to handle probate.