When someone dies their estate needs to be dealt with, and to get the process underway an application for probate must be made.
If the individual left a will, you will get a grant of probate; if there is no will, then letters of administration are issued, and both are applied for in the same way.
As the executor of a will you may choose to deal with probate yourself, but circumstances may dictate that you would prefer to seek professional advice.
Solicitors are most people’s first port of call, especially as they may have drafted the will, but some accountants also have probate specialists. It is also worthwhile involving any financial adviser who has been working with the deceased. They are likely to have access to software for financial advisers found at sites such as intelliflo.com/financial-adviser-software.
Finding a probate solicitor has been made easier by the Law Society, which has created an easy to use online search.
Enlisting the services of a probate solicitor may be appropriate if certain circumstances apply.
Firstly, you may be nervous about the legal process and decide that emotionally you are not ready to undertake it.
Probate solicitors have also seen the consequences of individuals ending up in difficulty when trying to handle probate themselves, when an innocent mistake can end up resulting in personal financial liabilities.
Other issues which can cause problems include the possibility that a will is disputed by dependents who query the document because they do not benefit from it.
Inheritance Tax may need to be addressed if the estate exceeds £325,000 as the law stands for the 2019-20 tax year. Anything in the estate over that sum will be subject to a 40% levy. If the estate is close to the limit, on either side, then advice is recommended.
If the deceased has left a large estate, complex matters may arise, including legal constructions such as trust funds and large pension pots. Again, finding a probate solicitor who is familiar with these problems will help to see matters resolved as quickly as possible.
An alternative to this is that the estate may be bankrupt. This is not an issue you should take on yourself.
Getting the correct advice will ease the process of probate. Fees apply, but savings could be greater.