Seeking Professional Probate Help after Attempting DIY Probate

31 December 2018

We recently spoke to Co-op Members about their experience of Probate. Of those that said they have carried out Probate, almost half sought professional advice. However, 11% told us that they only sought professional advice after they'd already tried to do the work themselves.

What Co-op Members Told Us

As part of our Biggest Ever Survey into Death, Dying and Bereavement, we recently asked Co-op Members to talk to us about their experiences of death, bereavement and later life planning. Of the Members that we spoke to, 24% have taken full or part responsibility for arranging Probate following the death of a loved one.

Of those that told us they have arranged Probate, they were asked whether they did this on their own or if they sought advice from a professional. 38% sought professional advice immediately and a further 11% sought professional advice after they had attempted to carry out the work on their own.

Understanding What's Involved in Probate

This indicates to us that not everyone is aware of just how much work is involved in the Probate process, and just how complex this work can be. If you choose to complete Probate yourself, then it's important to be absolutely clear on what's involved and how much of your time the Probate process will demand.

If you apply for the Grant of Representation yourself and then decide further down the line that you aren't able to complete the work, it may be harder to instruct a professional to take over at that stage.

So How Much Work Is Involved?

The person responsible for carrying out Probate for a deceased person's Estate is called the Administrator or the Executor (depending on whether or not the deceased left a Will). The umbrella term for this individual is the "Personal Representative" and this role comes with a significant amount of responsibility.

In brief, the Personal Representative is responsible for:

  • Identifying and valuing everything that the person owned when they died, including their home, pension, savings, life insurance policies, personal possessions, shares, etc.
  • Calculating and paying any Inheritance Tax, as well as any other tax that's payable by the Estate (and liaising with HMRC)
  • Applying to the Probate Court for the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
  • Identifying any debts owed by the deceased, notifying creditors of the death and settling these debts
  • Identifying and contacting all of the Beneficiaries that are entitled to inherit from the Estate, including locating missing Beneficiaries
  • Dealing with any claims for financial provision from the Estate
  • Selling or transferring everything owned by the deceased, including their property
  • Preparing the Estate accounts
  • Distributing what's left in the Estate to those entitled to inherit it

Depending on the complexity of the Estate, you can expect this work to take somewhere between 70 to 100 hours of your time in total. As you can imagine, for those carrying out this work in their spare time, the commitment can become overwhelming.

What If Mistakes Are Made?

If any mistakes are made along the way, then the Personal Representative can be held personally liable for these mistakes.

For example, it could be that the Personal Representative has distributed the Estate to the Beneficiaries, but they failed to realise that the deceased had an outstanding debt with a creditor because they failed to carry out all of the necessary checks or put steps in place to protect themselves if this does happen. Even though this is a genuine mistake, and an easy one to make, the Personal Representative could be held personally liable for settling the outstanding debt with the creditor.

Support from a Professional Probate Specialist

If you choose to instruct a professional Probate specialist, such as Co-op Legal Services, to help you with Probate, then everything can be taken care of for you. With our Probate Complete Service, we can take full responsibility for dealing with all of the tasks listed above on your behalf, taking the weight off your shoulders.

If someone has died and you need help with probate, contact us:

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