Streamline the Process: 8 reasons to use a Probate Practitioner

Winding up an estate can be complex and time-consuming, but there are also other valid reasons why you might choose to use a Probate Practitioner for probate. We look at 8 reasons why you should use a qualified Probate Practitioner.

After a death, a persons affairs are finalised by their personal representative. This is either the executor, appointed in their Will, or their administrator, if they did not leave a Will. It is open to a personal representative to instruct a Probate Practitioner to deal with the winding up of the estate. The cost of this is generally paid from the estate. Below are eight reasons why you may want to choose this option if you are appointed as a personal representative.

1.     Executors and administrators are personally liable for errors

The personal representatives of an estate are personally liable for any mistakes made that cause a loss to the estate. For example, if tax is not paid on time or not enough tax is paid. The executor or administrator will need to pay any interest and penalties themselves from their own funds.

2.     The Will may be hard to interpret

The clauses contained in Wills can often be hard for a layperson to interpret. They tend to be lengthy documents. It is important to understand exactly what your instructions are and how the estate is to be dealt with.

3.     Dealing with tax, including Inheritance Tax, can be complex

As a personal representative, you need to value the estate accurately and report to the authorities on its value. Additionally, you need to calculate what tax is due, including Inheritance Tax. You must arrange for this to be paid by the deadline of the end of the sixth month after the date of death. Failure to do so will incur penalties.

4.     There are time limits for winding up an estate

It is generally expected that an estate will be wound up within a year. While this may seem a long time, there is a lot to do in administering an estate and it can often take longer. The deadline is not a strict one, but personal representatives need to do what they can to meet it and avoid delays. This means dealing with issues as soon as they arise and working proactively to wind up all of the deceased’s financial affairs. This can be exceptionally time-consuming, especially if there are many different assets to value and liquidate and a property to clear and sell. Using a Probate Practitioner can speed up the administration process substantially. They will have the time to reply to correspondence as soon as it is received.

5.     Instructing a licensed Probate Practitioner can reduce the risk of conflict between family members

Emotions are often running high after a death. If a family member is dealing with the estate administration, there is a risk that other family members may criticise the progress being made. They might also feel that the personal representative is not handling matters correctly or has not achieved the best price for an asset. By using a Probate Practitioner, everyone understands that the process is being dealt with promptly and professionally. The scope for disagreements is generally reduced.

6.     A lay individual may not understand when it is important to place statutory advertisements

In some cases, it is important to place statutory advertisements in the Gazette and local newspapers. For example, if there is a risk that not all beneficiaries have been identified or that not all creditors are known. The personal representative needs to take steps to find unknown individuals. Failure to do so will expose them to personal liability. Thus meaning, they might have to pay a legacy or an estate debt from their own funds in the future.

7.     Preparing detailed estate accounts is not always straightforward

Once the estate is wound up, detailed estate accounts need to be prepared. Any beneficiaries entitled to a share of the residual estate, known as residual beneficiaries, have a right to see the estate accounts. These should include all of the estate’s assets and liabilities, an income account and full details of the estate’s expenses. It is not always simple to prepare estate accounts. Particularly in a more complex estate or where the administration period has been lengthy, lasting more than one tax period.

Probate Practitioners are used to dealing with estate accounts and will prepare these as a matter of course if they are involved in the administration.

8.     A Probate Practitioner can offer related services

Probate Practitioners also often provide related services such as Wills, advice on passing on money yourself when the time comes and conveyancing. Having all the services you need in one place will make matters simpler and ensure that you have the assistance you need. For example, if the deceased left a property to be sold.

We are able to advise clients on the probate process and introduce you to a licensed probate practitioner who can deal with your case.  We work with Acer Prime Law and Kings Court Trust, both are expert probate practitioners.

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