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Should I Use a Probate Solicitor or do DIY Probate Myself?

22nd February 2016

There's a lot of legal, tax and estate administration work required in order to complete the Probate process which can take anywhere from a few months up to a year in England or Wales.

Doing Probate yourself with a DIY Probate pack or not means you could be found financially responsible for any mistakes made. These are two of the reasons why many people choose to use our Probate Solicitors, and because we take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate and dealing with all the legal, tax (excluding VAT), property and estate administration affairs when you use our Probate Complete Service.

We know from many years of experience that not everyone can cope with the death of a loved one and it may be too much of an emotional strain to carry out the Probate work personally.

This article looks at the considerations you will need make when deciding whether to complete Probate yourself or whether you want to use a Probate solicitor.

First and foremost you need to know if the deceased person left a valid Will. The Will usually shows who has been named as the Executor or Executors of the Will.

Is Probate Required?

The Executors will need to work out whether the formal legal process of Probate is required or not. You would think that there would be an easy set of instructions to follow to help determine if Probate is required, but it is often not as straightforward as this.

Probate is usually required if there is property, land or shares in the estate but Probate may not be needed if the estate is below a certain value or being passed on to the surviving spouse and was in joint names.

Each financial institution has their own limit above which they will require Probate before allowing the deceased's account to be closed, or funds cashed in or transferred. Some limits are quite high, but often can be set as low as a few thousand pounds. In order to establish whether Probate is required, enquiries have to be made into the deceased's bank and savings accounts and with other investment holders.

If there was no valid Will, this a situation known as Intestacy and the Rules of Intestacy can be harsh. The next of kin, which is decided upon by a stipulated order of priority, may have to apply to the Court to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration in order to administer the estate.

The executors in a Will applying to the Court for a Grant of Probate and using it to administer the estate, can be referred to as the Probate process. However the term Probate is often used in the same context if there is no Will, and the deceased's next of kin apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Court instead. Both of these documents are legal evidence that the person or people named in them are entitled to administer the estate.

If you have been named as Executor in a Will, it may be that you are finding it particularly difficult coping with the loss of your loved one. This will be a factor in deciding whether to complete Probate yourself or use a Probate Solicitor. We all react differently to this kind of loss. Some people might find it helpful to get involved with the practical side of dealing with the estate, while others could find it a strain having to deal with the amount of work and time sensitive processes involved. Whether you feel that Probate is an unnecessary added pressure at an already difficult time could make the decision for you, without any further considerations.

Another factor in deciding whether to complete Probate yourself are your time constraints - both personal and work commitments. Probate can be time consuming and can take anywhere between 70 to 100 hours of highly detailed administrative work to complete; particularly if you have to deal with any Inheritance Tax, Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax that is owed by the estate.

Completing Probate yourself could be much more of a time commitment than you initially anticipate, particularly if you work full time and have a family. This alone could be the deciding factor.

How Much Does Probate Cost?

One last consideration is cost. This particular factor could come higher up on your decision making list depending on your circumstances. Completing Probate yourself will obviously be less expensive than asking a solicitor to do it for you. However, whilst using a specialist Probate Solicitor, you are paying for their expertise, knowledge of the legal processes and ability to take the work off your hands. This could make hiring a Probate Solicitor well worth the money.

At Co-op Legal Services, we offer you free initial advice about the estate and help to understand if Probate is required or not. In addition, if you decide to use our Probate Complete Service, our Probate Advisory team will book an appointment with one of our Probate Consultants to meet with you at your home or another location of your choice (in England or Wales), to discuss how we will take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate and dealing with all the legal, tax (excluding VAT), property and estate administration affairs on your behalf.

Our Probate Complete Service costs from £1,484 +VAT (£1,780 including VAT) £3,500 +VAT (£4,200 including VAT) for an average estate plus disbursements.

Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work, that price will not change unless the original information we are given is shown to be incorrect or circumstances change.

For free initial advice call our Probate Specialists on 01618558359 or contact us online and we will help you.

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I am writing to thank you for all of your work on my brothers estate. It was something that I would not have liked to attempt and has helped me enormously. G.M, Sheffield
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