Probate is rarely straightforward, and how it is conducted will rarely fit into a one size fits all model. For example, the estate may be large, there may be complicated family matters, such as a second marriage, or there may be business interests or a trust involved. If any of these are present in relation to the deceased’s estate, you should consider getting help from a solicitor.
Irrespective of the complexity of the estate, you should always think very carefully before applying for Probate yourself. This is because the law applies to you in the same way that it applies to a solicitor acting on behalf of an estate – and a failure to comply with the law and your duties under it can have 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 questions, causing further delay.
- The forms are complicated and it is easy to enter things in the wrong box or not provide all the information that is required, opening the potential for an HMRC enquiry. There is a 35% error rate in the forms submitted to HMRC.
- Paying tax when you do not need to. Inheritance Tax is complex, but it is important that you complete and submit the application correctly if you are to reduce your tax burden and use any unused nil rate band, transferable nil rate band and residential nil rate band.
- Inheritance Tax is payable within six months from the date of death, after which interest starts accruing on the outstanding tax. Delays in the Probate process can cause cash flow problems in funding this tax.
- Trusts, business assets and foreign assets all require specialist advice.
- Intestacy Rules are not straightforward. There is a common misconception that if you are married or in a civil partnership everything automatically passes to the surviving spouse/civil partner. That is untrue if there are children.
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Established in 1921, Owen White & Catlin have been providing Probate services throughout South West London, Surrey and Middlesex for many years. Our offices are staffed by teams of expert solicitors and support staff, making it easy for you to get in touch when you need us. Contact us using our online