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Why not to DIY probate

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A minority of families apply for Probate themselves. It requires time and confidence. This decision should not be taken lightly as some areas are complex and unless it is a very simple estate it will normally take 6-9 months.

Many people try to struggle through Probate, but if, for example, there’s a large estate, complicated family matters, second marriage, business interests or a trust involved, you may want to consider a solicitor to help. 
In any case, you should think carefully before applying for Probate yourself as the law applies to you in the same way that it applies to a solicitor acting on behalf of an estate. Failure to comply with the law could have very serious consequences.

What are the problems involved with applying for Probate yourself?

  • Often when clients contact banks and building societies themselves, the banks may not respond causing significant delay.  Also clients may not ask the right thing and there is further delay.
  • The court fee for obtaining a Grant of Probate is actually higher than for a solicitor, probably to cover the court’s administrative costs.
  • The forms are complicated and it’s easy to enter things in the wrong box or not complete all the required forms, opening the potential for an HMRC enquiry.  There is a 35% error rate.
  • Paying tax when you don’t need to.  Inheritance tax is complex and its important that you make the application correctly so you reduce your tax burden and use any unused nil rate band.
  • Inheritance tax has to be paid 6 months after the death or immediately if a property is sold.  Delays in the Probate process can cause cash flow problems in funding this tax.
  • Trusts, business assets and foreign assets all require specialist advice.  The later may need a special grant.
  • Intestacy rules are not straightforward.  There is a common misconception that if you’re married everything automatically passes to the surviving spouse/civil partner.  That’s absolutely untrue if there are no children.  Only £250,000 goes to the spouse or civil partner.
Disadvantages Advantages
Time-consuming Potentially saves money
Complex  
Onerous  
Potential over payment of tax  
It's during an emotionally stressful time  
Delays may cause cash flow problems  
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