If you are appointed as the executor or administrator of an estate upon a person’s death, you will soon be faced with the task of carrying out probate. Depending on whether you feel qualified to do it yourself, you always have the option to hire a legal professional to do it for you.
Bear in mind that any charges incurred from using professional services would have to be deducted from the estate. The conditions of such expenditures may also depend on the terms laid out in the will.
You don’t have to hire professional services for the entire probate process, you can call upon specific services as and when needed, e.g. if you are not sure about certain aspects of the deceased’s stocks and shares, you can consult a stockbroker to perform that function, even if you submit the probate application yourself.
Some other professionals that can give you financial probate consultancy are:
Trust corporations (e.g. Kings Court Trust)
Private probate companies
The following are some important factors to consider when carrying out the probate yourself:
If you take upon the role of the executor which means that you accept the responsibilities associated with administering and managing the estate and affairs of the deceased.
This also means that, you are personally liable for any mistakes or oversights brought upon the estate, and the beneficiaries may file a legal complaint against you in Court.
If you feel that you are not suitable for such a responsibility, then it may be best to seek a legal professional to take on the role.
Sometimes an estate can be very complex or difficult to resolve without professional legal services. Here are some examples that may indicate that you have a complex estate on your hands:
A beneficiary cannot be contacted:
If named beneficiaries are under the age of 18 (England & Wales) or 16 (Scotland), and a trust is set upon them
Challenges to the will from beneficiaries, or people who claim rights to the estate but are not named in the will
A trust is set up under the will
If the will is lost or missing
If the will has dubious validity
Someone claiming inheritance of a life interest on the estate (‘liferent of’ in Scotland)
Insolvency (when the estate does not contain enough money to pay off the debts)
The deceased had a business or was part of a business partnership
The deceased owned agricultural property
Probate can be a complex and long process, you need to be able to competently organise your time in order to deal with it properly. Make sure that you can commit enough of your time to see to the task thoroughly.
If at some point an issue that you cannot solve arises, do not postpone or ignore it, make sure to seek professional advice to resolve the problem before it becomes serious.