When someone dies and you’re faced with probate, it’s important to think about whether you employ a professional legal firm to administer the estate or if you decide to do it yourself.

Whether you handle all the tasks involved in administering the estate or use professional advisers is a matter of choice and convenience. Any fees properly incurred are paid out of the estate, subject to the terms of the Will.

Executors can seek professional advice from:

  • A bank
  • A Trust Corporation
  • A solicitor

You can also employ a stockbroker or other adviser to perform specific duties, even if you don’t use a professional to submit the probate application.

Here are some preliminary tips to consider when you’re deciding whether to go it alone:

Liability

As an executor or administrator, you are legally obliged to act in the interests of the estate.

If you pursue the DIY route, you may be personally liable for any mistakes or oversights, or if things go wrong.

If you feel unable to act as an executor or administrator, your best option is to employ a professional legal firm who will take on all the responsibilities on your behalf.

Your time

Make an honest appraisal of your time limits and ability to take on a task that can be complex and very time-consuming.

There are many things to organise when someone dies and it is easy to forget vital steps or become overwhelmed.

Problems

You should always take legal and professional advice if a problem arises that you feel you cannot deal with.

The complexity of the estate

If the Will or the estate is complex, professional advice should be taken.

Some signs where advice should be sought include the following:

  • The estate is insolvent.
  • A beneficiary cannot be contacted.
  • Someone intends to challenge the Will.
  • There is some question of the Will’s validity, or the Will cannot be found.
  • Someone stands to inherit a life interest in (or in Scotland a ‘liferent’ of) the estate.
  • Beneficiaries include children under the age of 18 (in Scotland, 16) and a trust is set up for them.
  • The deceased owned a business or was a partner in a business or owned agricultural property.
  • The deceased was a Name (i.e. an investor) in Lloyd’s of London insurance market.
  • A trust is set up under the Will.

 

Expert assistance

If you want to do probate yourself, then Lawpack is here to help. Our DIY Probate Kit includes all the probate forms you need, plus a 62-page guidance manual written by probate experts to help guide you through the process. The manual also includes template letters and examples of completed forms.

Other information

 

External links