If you are named in a Will as the Executor of someone who has died, or that person had made no Will but you are entitled under the intestacy rules to act as an Administrator of their estate, then you can do so personally, or by instructing solicitors to act on your behalf.
Solicitors can assist you with the application for a grant of representation (leaving you to deal with all other matters personally), or they can deal with the entire administration of the estate on your behalf. They can also advise you in relation to specific points.
(A grant of representation – a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration dependent on whether or not the person who has died made a Will – is a document produced by the Probate Registry providing evidence of the authority of the Executor or Administrator to deal with an estate. Organisations which are holding assets belonging to the deceased person may demand that a grant is produced before they will hand over money or assets belonging to the deceased to the Executors or Administrators).
Whilst instructing solicitors will generate legal costs which you might be able to avoid by dealing with matters personally, there are reasons why you might prefer to use a probate specialist:
- They will be able to advise you on whether a grant of representation is actually required.
- They will be able to identify reasons why you might not want to get involved in the administration (for example the estate is insolvent, or contentious issues are likely to arise which you would not wish to get involved in).
- You do wish to take responsibility for dealing with the estate, but are not confident about dealing with matters personally or do not have the time to do so.
- You are unsure about how to prepare the executors’ oath (or the new statement of truth which is now replacing the oath) and the inheritance tax account.
- You wish to ensure that you have professional advice to ensure that the correct steps have been taken in the administration to protect you from the personal liability which you could otherwise face as Executor if you make mistakes causing loss to beneficiaries or creditors of the estate.
- The estate is complicated. For example:
- Income or Inheritance Tax needs to be calculated and paid
- The estate includes rented properties or commercial or foreign property or assets held in trust
- The deceased was bankrupt / the estate is insolvent
- You want to be able to demonstrate that you acted entirely properly.
- There is no Will and you are concerned about your exposure to unknown beneficiaries
- There are doubts about the validity of the will
- The deceased had dependents who were deliberately left out of the will, but who might want to make a claim on the estate
- There might be beneficiaries or other family members who, for personal reasons, you do not want to have to deal with personally, and would prefer for all contact with them to be via solicitors.
Instructing a solicitor to deal with these matters can give you the peace of mind of knowing that all necessary actions have been taken. It may relieve the pressure of having to deal with all matters yourself. In some circumstances your solicitor may be able to identify opportunities for tax saving, or through use of their contacts, which could result in an overall financial benefit to the estate compared to if you had dealt with matters personally.
At Jordans Solicitors we are proud to be a member of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality (WIQS) Scheme. We also have specialist solicitors who are members of STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). We are pleased to advise you in relation to any administration of estate issues. Our wills and probate solicitors are based in our Wakefield, Dewsbury, Horsforth and Selby offices and can be contacted free on 0330 300 1103 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch.