Using a Will after death

20th October 2014

Using a Will after death

According to a recent survey the average cost of services on death, including probate and funeral services, is now £8,427. Figures like this can often put individuals off seeking legal advice. Probate‘ is a term commonly used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs (called ‘administering the estate’).

And some organisations have given professionals a bad name by charging excessive amounts for dealing with an estate, for example, charging a percentage of the assets. At Gotelee we only charge for work carried out and can offer a fixed fee for obtaining a Grant of Probate. Often it is not as expensive as people think.
It is always surprising the amount of paperwork produced by someone dying and many people become overwhelmed during the process. Using a solicitor will mean that they take on the challenge of the paper mountain.

It is a common mis-conception that a beneficiary under a Will cannot be an executor. If you would like to give your friend or relative the choice of seeking legal help it is possible to appoint a family member as your executor who can decide whether to seek assistance from a solicitor as and when required.  Using a solicitor can bring many benefits, they can advise on the tax position of the estate including maximising Inheritance Tax exemptions and reliefs. Executors are often unaware that an Income Tax return should be completed as part of the administration of an estate in order to finalise matters. A Solicitor will be able to ensure all the loose ends are tidied up and the deceased’ affairs are put correctly in order.
There can be complications with homemade Wills, for example, where they have not been executed correctly or where there is uncertainty as to the deceased’ wishes.  Probate can be difficult to obtain if the Will had been prepared incorrectly. The administration of an estate can become complex when these matters arise and a solicitor can assist.
Executors’ involvement with an estate is more straightforward where a solicitor is instructed as the application paperwork for a Grant of Probate is different. The application fee is also reduced when the application is made through a solicitor.  Executors should also be aware that they can be held personally liable if they do not carry out the administration of the estate correctly. Where someone dies without leaving a Will and therefore dies intestate, it is essential that all beneficiaries under the rules of intestacy are accounted to otherwise the person dealing with the estate may be held personally liable.  This liability can extend to favouring one beneficiary over an other or in the unfortunate event that the Will is challenged and legal advice is not sought.
Legal advice is not as expensive as you may think, certainly at Gotelee we do not charge a percentage of the estate and we try to give you a fixed fee or price certainty wherever possible.  If you find yourself appointed as an Executor and would like some advice either in respect of the whole estate administration or just elements of it then please contact Karina Holland on 01473 298185 or email karina.holland@gotelee.co.uk

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